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Chicken to get 3D-printed prosthetic leg following amputation

A scan of Cicely’s good leg was taken prior to the amputation.
A scan of Cicely’s good leg was taken prior to the amputation.Handout

A chicken that had a bad leg amputated to make way for a 3-D printed prosthetic replacement successfully underwent the first phase of surgery this week, and is recuperating at an animal hospital.

The bird’s owners said doctors did an impeccable job.

Patrick Crozier visited the 3-month-old chicken named Cicely at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Wednesday night, after doctors there removed the hen’s right leg.

“Everything went great,” Crozier said. “Cicely says hospital food [is] not bad, though lobster would be nice.”

Cicely was born with a torn tendon in her right leg that made it difficult for the hen to walk. Doctors believe the leg problem could have started when the hen was still inside an egg, prior to hatching, Crozier said.

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Crozier said because Cicely was suffering, he brought the bird to his close friend, Andrea Martin, who helps rehabilitate animals — specifically chickens.

Martin, who owns Black Thistle Farm in Clinton, made the decision to bring Cicely to Tufts for evaluation.

Doctors there gave her two options: put Cicely down, or pay the $2,500 price tag for a prosthetic leg.

“We decided it was worth splurging for the rehabilitation because we love our hens,” Crozier said. “They are more than just egg-layers. We help them so they can live as long as they can. They become part of the family.

Cummings School specialists cautioned that the surgery is only part of a complex multistep process. In a statement, doctors said the young chicken is doing well, but has a long way to go.

Cicely will remain under the hospital’s care until she is returned to Martin’s farm to regain her strength. As she recuperates, a lab that makes prosthetics will devise some leg solutions for the bird.

A scan of Cicely’s good leg was taken prior to the amputation. The new prosthetic, made with a 3-D printer, will be based on that scan. The new leg should be fitted within two weeks.

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“On to the next part — we are so happy the worst part is over,” Martin said.


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.