Grandmother, 52, is one of the first people in the world to have a 3D-printed ...

A grandmother has become one of only a handful of people in the world to have a 3D-printed sternum fitted.

Linda Edwards' breastbone collapsed following a complication that arose during heart bypass surgery in November 2016. 

For years the 52-year-old endured pain she compared to 'carrying a heavy rucksack on your front'. This left her unable to hang washing, cough or hug her grandchildren.

Things took a turn for the better when she came across a documentary about a surgeon who performs 3D printed transplants.

Ms Edwards, of Fleetwood, Lancashire, tracked the medic down on Facebook, which led to her undergoing the procedure two years later on July 16. 

She is the third person in Britain and the fifth in the world to have the 'life-changing' operation, which saw her sternum, and part of her ribcage, be replaced.

A month on, Ms Edwards can finally hold her one-year-old granddaughter Sienna without any pain. 

Linda Edwards is one of the first people in the world to have a 3D-printed sternum fitted. The 52-year-old's breastbone collapsed following heart bypass surgery in November 2016. The transplant has allowed her to hold her granddaughter Sienna, one (pictured together)

Linda Edwards is one of the first people in the world to have a 3D-printed sternum fitted. The 52-year-old's breastbone collapsed following heart bypass surgery in November 2016. The transplant has allowed her to hold her granddaughter Sienna, one (pictured together)

Image shows the titanium sternum, and part of the ribcage, being fitted

Image shows the titanium sternum, and part of the ribcage, being fitted

X-ray shows the newly-fitted sternum shortly after Ms Edwards had the surgery last month

X-ray shows the newly-fitted sternum shortly after Ms Edwards had the surgery last month

Ms Edwards, a mental health support worker, saw her GP in 2016, complaining of indigestion and heartburn.

To relieve her discomfort, she underwent heart bypass surgery. 

This involves a surgeon using a blood vessel from the leg, arm or chest to 'get around' a coronary artery that has been narrowed by plaque. 

The procedure required surgeons cut her sternum open. Once the operation was over, her breastbone was held together with wires.

CAN RIBS BE 3D PRINTED?

Ribcages can be 3D printed off a digital file via a laser in the UK.

Parts are built from a range of fine metal powders that are fully melted down and then built layer-by-layer in thickness ranging from 20-to-100 microns. A micron is one millionth of a metre. 

This technology allows for the creation of complex shapes that cannot be made via traditional techniques, such as casting.

Other benefits include reduced material use and cost, as well as products being bespoke and lightweight as only required substances are used. 

This technique also

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