3D printing technology discovery could reduce costs of surgery in Kenyan

As rugby-player Chris Muraguri wore his number 7 jersey while he recuperated at his one-roomed house in Nairobi, nursing a right foot double fracture, he surfed the internet looking for ways to speed up his healing. He was hoping to return to the rugby pitch as well as to his pharmacy class at the University of Nairobi.

He came across 3D printing technology and made a skeletal prototype of his injured foot that he shared with his doctor, Prof Symon Guthua, a surgery consultant at the University of Nairobi.

“Professor Guthua wondered how I did it and suggested I meet several of his colleagues for further discussions, saying this served as a navigational tool for my future visits. The prototype helped him understand a patient’s medical problem before surgery can be done.

“It is a compass for surgeons planning for accurate execution of surgeries that can help patients heal faster as well as ease costs,” he told Business Daily. Although he started with only an idea, he has grown his business, which so far grossed Sh25 million.

In 2017, Mr Muraguri abandoned his studies to pursue his new-found business, Micrive Infinite, which he co-founded with Mandela Kiberiti, a sixth year pediatrics student at the University of Nairobi.

“I do not meet patients but have access to their x-rays and extensive discussions helps me understand the extent of the fracture or tumour from which I make a prototype for the doctors to study before heading to the surgery room,” he says.

Mr Muraguri’s business now has four employees handling various tasks, from sourcing for business to making of the prototype that Mr Muraguri then delivers to surgeons.

“I remember making a presentation before a sitting of dental surgeons and their students where one lecturer paid me Sh12,000 for a prototype on a cracked jaw which I did to his satisfaction,” he recalls

Speaking at a symposium on the importance of 3D Printing in healthcare hosted by Aga Khan University (AKU) and Hospital (AKUH) last year, Mr Muraguri called for public-private partnerships to defray costs of making prototypes for various patients.

“We at times make free prototypes for patients that cannot afford costs of making a prototype. We made one for a girl who suffered a gunshot wound on her face in Yemen that doctors used to remodel her face,” he recalls.

They handle cases from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Yemen and their fees vary depending on the individual cases.

To safeguard the identity of patients and their information, the firm receives numbered x-rays without names and Mr Muraguri never meets the patients; only the surgeons.

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