Just once in a while, you can meet someone who is absolutely passionate about a community need. 
During a recent Rotary Friendship Exchange to Brazil, the small team from District 9930 met a very special person with a very defined goal.  This was Rotarian Dr. Cassiano Alves Ferreira Neto, who is a dentist employed at a cancer hospital in the small city of Jaù.  Cassiano was concerned that the cancer patients who had lost an ear, a nose, an eye or a palate during cancer surgery were, due to their disfigurement, tending to withdraw themselves from society and this often led to severe depression. 
Cassiano started moulding prosthetic ears, noses, eyes, and palates from resins, with the hospital funding him to fit facial prosthetics for 40 patients each year.
Two years ago, Cassiano was travelling to a meeting with an old friend, Nilton Palomo.  Nilton was fascinated to hear of Cassiano’s work.  The two men continued to talk and Nilton told his friend that his son, Henrique, now ran a biomedical engineering company in Brasilia. 
Nilton then exclaimed – “What if my son Henrique can produce a system which allows facial prostheses to be produced by 3D printing?”.
Henrique was approached and immediately agreed to undertake this project.  Along with João, his 3D printer technician, they worked on the project at no charge, as a gift to the city where they grew up.  They started with an open-sourced graphics software program called Blender – this is the same software that is often used in the film industry to create 3D images.
In May this year, Henrique borrowed two laser printers and travelled to Jaù to demonstrate the new system.  A lady volunteered to be their first patient.  She had had her nose removed during cancer treatment.  Henrique took 25 pictures of the patient’s face and then fed the pictures into a computer, which used the picture on the patient’s identity card as a reference. 
Within hours, the patient’s face was restored to being similar to what it was before treatment – she looks wonderful.
Henrique and João have made a further visit to Jaù to work with Cassiano to undertake more prosthetic procedures, making noses, ears and half-faces.
At present, the 3D printers cannot print the type of resin used for facial prosthetics, so a mould is printed and Cassiano makes the prothesis from that mould.  Henrique is presently working to further improve the system so that resin prosthetics with precisely the correct skin colour can be printed, which will remove the necessity of making a mould.
The cost of the equipment is US$32,000.  The hospital has contracted to fund all the running expenses and the number of procedures per year will increase from 40 to 80.
The small Rotary club of Jaù Leste decided to raise the funds for the purchase of the 3D printers with the assistance of a Rotary Global Grant.  To apply for a Global Grant the club needed a Rotary club from another country to become a partner in the project.  Jaù is a place rarely visited by foreign Rotarians, so forming a partnership with an overseas Rotary club was going to be a challenge.  When a team of eight Rotarians from District 9930 were hosted by the Rotary Club of Jaù Norte, Cassiano asked if he could meet the New Zealand Rotarians and tell them of the ‘Faces’ project.  Cassiano’s partner Marilia, speaks English and acted as an interpreter for the 9930 team during their four-day visit to the city.  Cassiano’s enthusiasm for the project was infectious and two of the team members made a commitment to assist.
Marilia was co-opted to the project committee as a translator, but very quickly became a key member of the team and after seeing first-hand the wonderful work that Rotary does, she has become a Rotarian.
Havelock North Rotary Club became the international partner for the project and the 9930 Rotary Foundation Committee pledged District Designate Funds.  The Rotary clubs of Rotorua and Cambridge gave support. Three Brazilian Rotary Clubs and District 4480 pledged funds.  Once 50% of the US$32,000 had been pledged, an application was made to the Rotary Foundation for the balance.  Two days after Christmas Day we learnt from the Rotary Foundation that the grant was approved and the equipment will be installed at the Jaù Amaral Carvalho Cancer Treatment Hospital very shortly. 
The President of the Rotary Club of Jaù Leste has remarked “O presente de Natal chegou para as pessoas que necessitam voltar a olhar nos espelhos”, which roughly translates as “this is a Christmas gift which will allow patients to look into a mirror and not see a disfigured face”.
Source:  District 9930 Website Stories