The turtle was found with two giant holes in his shell from two separate boat propellers. Using a new tissue-growing treatment he is almost healed. The tissue growing treatment can be seen at the end of the hose on his shell.
Orthodontist Alberto Vargas calls Andre, a 171-pound sea turtle that he fitted with a set of braces, a very strange patient.
Swimmers floated the endangered green sea turtle to shore on a boogie board. They called the Loggerhead Marinelife Center for help.
Boat propellers had gouged two holes in the green turtle’s shell. The bigger gash, about two inches deep and packed with about three pounds of sand, was the size of an adult forearm. The other was as big as a baseball.
Undaunted, turtle experts at the center gingerly cleaned the wound. They covered it with a black foam and clear plastic to promote healing. Andre’s shell was hooked up to a plastic tube that uses negative pressure to promote new skin growth and knock out infection supplied for free by San Antonio-based Kinetic Concepts Inc.
Using braces like bridges to either side of the wound, the orthodontist pushed and pulled Andre’s shell to promote growth. Each day, caregivers twisted a key that clicked to adjust the braces. He coaxed the shell to expand about one inch.
And after 13 months of treatment, Andre is ready to be released. His skin underneath the foam, once fully exposing organs, is now hard enough to survive in the depths of the Atlantic. Green turtles grow up to about 400 pounds and live 80 years.