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Medical innovation has helped change the lives of 65 South Africans in the public health sector; changing lives one surgery at a time.


South Africa (30 October 2020) – The funding grant of R2.25 million from Carl & Emily Fuchs Foundation (CEFF), to the Centre of Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (CRPM) over the past 5 years has enabled the centre to give people back their lives and dignity.

The Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (CRPM), established in 1997, now manufactures tailor-made medical devices and is a leader in additive manufacturing technology (3D printing). These tailor-made devices are then precision-fitted during advanced surgical procedures. The end beneficiaries are patients in public hospitals who may be deformed as a result of accidents or trauma, or severe medical conditions, such as cancer.

In one instance, a young woman with a seemingly inoperable facial tumour has been given a new ‘clip-on’ face thanks to a ground-breaking surgery made possible by this innovative technology.

Since being awarded the CEFF funding for its Changing Faces, Changing Lives project, the CPRM has supported 65 patients who do not qualify for, or cannot afford, advanced tertiary healthcare – offering appropriate surgical intervention; sponsoring medical implants; and paying for hospital costs as well as follow-up medical expenses.

In another case, a young woman, Princess Moshoana, whose upper jaw was shattered after she was shot in the face during an attempted hijacking, developed a pronounced speech defect and battled to chew most types of food. “I was hopeless. I thought I would never be normal again,” Princess recounts.

Prof Deon de Beer, Department of Science and Technology (DST) Chair of Innovation and Commercialisation of Additive Manufacturing associated with the CRPM, comments in a heartfelt letter of gratitude to the Foundation,

“Innovation does not simply happen overnight, it takes time, hard work, collaborative partnerships and funding. I am truly grateful to the Fuchs Foundation for their support”.

“When the focus area of funding is not quite risk-averse, being defined as ‘Innovation in Technology Development’, the results are even more rewarding. And yet, none of this really matters – what does count is the difference that this work makes in the lives of real people”.  Dr Riaan Els, CEO of the Fuchs Foundation.

These technologies and similar philanthropic stories will be available at the virtual launch of the 2020 Annual Review of South African Philanthropy on 3 November 2020. The Annual Review of South African Philanthropy is published by the Independent Philanthropy Association South Africa (IPASA) with the purpose of raising awareness of the impact of South African philanthropy.

CRPM and technology response to COVID-19

CRPM has also used this innovative technology at its disposal to forge a rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic by designing, developing and producing some critically non-invasive ventilation containment helmet that supports patients in the hypoxic respiratory failure phase of clinical intervention, thus reducing the need for conventional ventilators.

In addition, a reusable respirator mask was developed as part of the personal protective equipment (PPE) made available to medical support staff that can easily be scaled up for mass manufacture through injection-moulding.

Sources: IPASA
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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