Changing lives with custom prosthetics

Changing lives with custom prosthetics

Durham, NC (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) -  From ears, to eyes and everything in between, Jay McClennen, Chief Certified Clinical Anaplastologist at The Anaplastology Clinic in Durham, NC takes what he learned in his 17-year career making prosthetic for the big screen, and he's brought his talents off screen to real life.

"You meet fascinating people that have been through a lot, strong people, strong characters," McClennen says.

McClennen met Diane Stokes who found out she had breast cancer 11 years ago.

"Anytime you hear that C word, you think, well this is the end of the world," Stokes says.

She had a lumpectomy and was cancer free for six years, then a more aggressive type struck.

"I made up my mind immediately that day that I would have a double mastectomy," Stokes says.

Because of her history and age, breast reconstruction was not an option.

"There's about 20-percent on average that aren't good candidates for reconstruction" McClennen explains.

In years past, breast prosthetic have been heavy and uncomfortable, prompting McClennen to invent his own custom silicone breast prosthesis.

"It's a hollow air bladder so it's like a balloon almost. One of the important things about a breast prosthesis is that it be light weight" he says.

Once the mold's been made and the silicone cast, the details that make each of us unique can be added.

"We have different colors we can mix in to get the opacity of the skin," McClennen exclaims.

Stokes is thrilled with her new breasts.

"I do everything. Even put on a swimsuit" she said. Just like she did before cancer.

The custom fit prosthetic breasts are removed every night and washed with an antibacterial soap. Diane likens it to putting in and taking out her contacts each day. The custom breast prosthetic last about three years.

Copyright 2015 WTVM. All rights reserved.