3D Printing Saved Baby’s Life

3-dprinting-saves-babys-lifeMuch of the time, technologies like 3D printing are used for non-essential reasons like creating plastic toys or models. However, recent news shows that this tech was used to print out an airway splint. This splint saved a three-month old baby’s life. That is pretty essential, don’t you think?

This life-saving procedure combined the best of medical knowledge and technology to create a synthetic part that could be used in a infant boy who couldn’t breathe on his own.

The little boy is named Kaiba Gionfriddo. He’s from Youngstown, Ohio and was born with a condition called tracheobronchomalacia. It’s very rare and only one in 2,200 babies have it. This defect makes it so the airways are so weak that they collapse when trying to breathe or cough.

It was discovered that Kaiba had this condition when his parents were at a restaurant. The little boy just stopped breathing and turned blue. He was saved when CPR was performed but it was quickly found out that he had a chronic condition. Before 3D printing could be used to help him, he was placed on a breathing machine at Akron Children’s Hospital. The boy was given a bleak prognosis.

Thankfully, one of his doctors had heard about research being done in Michigan involving artificial airway splints. That’s where 3D printing came in to save the day, quite literally. Kaiba’s parents contacted the doctors at the Michigan hospital and Glen Green, M.D., and Scott Hollister, Ph.D. got on the case immediately.

These doctors had just been working on a device that could act as a splint in Kaiba’s airway to prop it open so he could breathe continually. They actually got emergency approval from the FDA to create a tracheal splint for the little boy using polycaprolactone. This material is actually a form of biodegradable polyester.

Hollister and Green used a CT scan of Kaiba’s airway to create a splint custom-fitted just for him. Then they used 3D printing to print it out. They performed the operation on February 9, 2012 to place it. This involved sewing the splint around his airway to give it more structure and support so it will grow and become stronger as he gets older. It will be absorbed into his body within three years.

Kaiba is now 100{ed34752d3d9237811f2899a265685e36705e4e86722207f201c96dd1cfc4a167} fine and hasn’t had any further difficulties breathing. All of this thanks to technology!