I met Dr. John Paul in a Microsoft event with his colleague Dr. Waruguru Wanjau. Since I had met him before I wondered what the interest in technology was for him. The last time I checked, Dr. John Paul was pursuing his masters in plastic surgery and as I spoke to him he had added on a new project to his vision. His new interest was in 3D printing after his professional and personal life felt like it wasn’t enough. As his curiosity grew, he took time to read and became attached to the tech world.
As his vision grew he invited two of his fellow doctors to be part of what seemed crazy at the time. After much deliberation and discussions Dr. Allan Mukuzi was part of this 3D printing life. A year and a half later of hard work, the two gentlemen realized that they needed a lady’s perspective and just like that Dr. Waruguru Wanjau was part of their team. Since 2015 the big three have created one of the most innovative startups that anyone has come up with in Kenya.
Novecell Africa is a Kenyan medical biotech startup that leverages on 3D printing technology that is built to create innovative solutions in healthcare. You may think, why 3D printing technology in health? Currently they have been creating 3D printed models from medical imaging data such as CT scans for surgical planning by surgeons. The point is to make sure that surgeons have an easier time by creating visual representations of the interior of the body for clinical analysis and medical intervention of complex diseases.
The process takes a short time hence why it holds a lot of promise for our medical future. Recently, Dr. John and his team have been carrying out research on the applicability of this technology in the Kenyan medical field. In 2015, they had their first print despite the fact that they did not have a great understanding of what they were getting into. Three doctors joined together to make a patient better and not in the way they were used to but this time, through technology. Just with four days to work with, the team gathered information form a surgical team that needed them to intervene on a very complicated case. After four jumpy days they delivered what was expected of them and without a doubt their model was unprecedented. The patient had sustained serious injuries after a road accident and had a very complex maxillofacial injury.
Although they have received positive feedback from medical fraternities the challenge as in any startup is translating that to actual work. So far, the greatest achievement the team had was last year when their 3D model was part of a successful planning and separation of conjoined twins. The operation took 23 hours and was a rewarding operation even when it wasn’t expected.
Undeniably, there is a great future for Novecell Africa and without a doubt their beginning has just began. As the Kenyan health sector continues to grow such new advances are needed.