Mass. farm owner buys 3-D printer prosthetic leg for her chicken
One Massachusetts chicken is about to get a costly leg up on life – a $2,500 prosthetic limb made on a 3-D printer.
The chicken, named Cicely, is headed into surgery on Wednesday for the start of a first-of-its-kind procedure to fit her with an artificial limb, her owner, Andrea Martin of Black Thistle Farm, said on Monday.
Cicely, 3 months old, was born with a torn tendon in her right leg that limits her mobility. When Martin took her to Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine to be examined last week she was given two choices — a prosthetic or euthanasia.
“It was a no-brainer,” Martin said in a phone interview. “She needs to be able to live a normal life.”
Martin’s farm, located in Clinton, about 45 miles (72 km) west of Boston, specializes in chicken rehabilitation and this isn’t the first time she has splurged on surgery. One of her hens had a hysterectomy last year that cost $3,000.
“Anytime you do surgery on a bird, it’s a risk,” she said. “But I am optimistic. I think this will make her very happy. It’s worth it.”
When Cicely goes into surgery Wednesday, Dr. Emi Knafo will amputate her right leg. She will then run a CT-scan on Cicely’s left leg, to be used for a 3-D printed prosthetic. The chicken will be sent home to rest for two weeks, before returning to Tufts for her fitting.
Similar surgeries have been performed on other creatures, but Knafo said she believed it was the first time it has been attempted on a chicken.
Martin said she hopes to write a children’s book about the experience, once Cicely is healed.
“She needs to tell her story,” Martin said.