When Lance Cpl. Jaden Murry underwent immediate reconstruction surgery to remove most of his lower jaw, surgeons at Naval Medical Center San Diego opted to use part of Murry’s fibula, the bone on the outside of the lower leg, to reconstruct the Marine’s mandible.
But it was the denture prosthesis installed during the incredible procedure that was even more groundbreaking.
For the first time ever, Defense Department surgeons installed 3D-printed teeth in a procedure, one that was necessitated due to a tumor in Murry’s lower jaw.
“I wasn’t too nervous,” the Twentynine Palms-based Murry said in a press release. “I knew I was in good hands. I had to put all of my faith and hopes in the hands of strangers. I had to trust them all.”
As part of the surgery, Murry, who is to assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 7, had to have a tracheostomy tube inserted to assure proper breathing in the event of a compromised airway.
So successful was the procedure, however, that the tube was able to be removed within a week of the surgery, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Hammer, a maxillofacial surgical oncologist and reconstructive surgeon who led a team of specialists alongside Navy Lt. Justin Odette.
“All of the providers worked as a team to keep his recovery on track,” Hammer said in the press release. “To see him swallowing, speaking, walking and not using a tracheostomy tube one week post-surgery was a huge victory.”
Throughout the ordeal, Murry said he drew strength from family members — notably, his mother and grandfather, who the Marine joked “made me try to say my ABCs” following the surgery.
“It was weird to hear my own voice,” Murry said in the release. “I just made a sound and everyone there cheered.”
Murry eventually will have a permanent prosthesis installed, but until then, he’ll have to subsist on a soft food diet while calling the Camp Pendleton, California, Wounded Warrior Battalion home. There’s no doubt the Marine is anxiously awaiting a return to normality.
“I really look forward to getting back into a healthy mindset of working out, running and bodybuilding.”
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.