BOGOTA, Colombia – Using a caliper, Hernan Baron carefully measures a mold for an artificial ear. Then he double checks it against the patient's head, to ensure it will fit properly.
The technician is in the midst of making two silicone ears for Mauricio Chaparro, who was born without them.
Baron works with dozens of surgeons who fit their patients with the ears, noses, eyes and hands that he manufactures. He estimates he has made at least 1,200 prostheses over the years.
Baron says it can take up to five months to produce a device, from the initial appointment for measurements through the manufacturing of a mold, finding the proper color to match the patient's skin and making adjustments.
The 49-year-old He began his career as a dental technician making false teeth, but he switched to producing visible body parts 15 years ago after taking courses and workshops, including one on art.
Baron says his patients have included police officers who have lost fingers and other body parts in Colombia's civil conflict, but most clients have been injured by accidents on the road or at work.
"When you do a job that can help the person raise their self-esteem ... it's an added value to the work. It makes everything more beautiful, more human," Baron said.