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- A cat from Russia named Dymka has become the world’s second recipient of 3D-printed titanium prosthetic limbs after suffering from frostbite.
- A passerby found the cat in the snow and took her to a clinic where a team of vets collaborated with researchers from a Russian university to give Dymka a chance to walk again.
- Dymka has taken to her new legs and is now able to move around on her own.
Things looked grim for Dymka, a cat found by a passerby on the side of a road in Novokuznetsk, a city in southwestern Siberia.
But thanks thanks to some quick and innovative thinking, a team of veterinarians and researchers from Russia’s Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU), saved Dymka’s life—and mobility—by amputating the cat’s legs and 3D-printing titanium replacements.
In order to create these prosthetics, the team took CT scans of the cat’s legs using x-rays. Then they used the scans to 3D-print titanium rods that would become her new legs. Dymka received these new prosthetics in July 2019.
The titanium limbs, which were implanted into Dymka’s leg bones, were coated with calcium phosphate to help doctors mount them and reduce the risk of infection. According to a paper in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, the titanium is used “as biomaterial” in prosthetics because of its compatibility “with living tissue.” In addition to its antibacterial properties, the calcium phosphate also helps prosthetics adhere to bones and decreases the chance of implant rejection.
Sadly, Dymka’s story isn’t uncommon. Sergei Gorshkov, the vet who performed Dymka’s amputation, told The Moscow Times that the brutal Siberian winters bring in “at least five to seven cats due to frostbite” annually.
But Dymka is the second cat in the world to receive a quadruple amputation and prosthetic implants. The other was Ryzhik—his name meaning ‘ginger,’ or ‘red’—who lost all four limbs to frostbite. The two cats struck up a friendship as they both live in the veterinary clinic that saved their lives.
According to a news release from TPU, in the seven months since Dymka’s surgeries, she “leads a full-on life,” having regained the ability to walk, run, and even make it up and down stairs.