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How 3D Printing Saved This Baby’s Life

How 3D Printing Saved This Baby’s Life

It seems like the applications for 3D printing are endless. If you do a quick online search, you’ll see them being used to print everything from sea shells to synthetic meat to primitive guns. Now there’s been another breakthrough that could really put 3D printing on the map: custom-made, biodegradable medical implants.

20-month-old Kaiba Gionfriddo was born with a rare, life-threatening condition called tracheobronchomalacia. The main arteries to his heart and lungs were misplaced, squeezing his windpipe and constricting his breathing. His family wasn’t aware anything was wrong until one day the infant collapsed and turned blue on a family outing. After that, he would stop breathing and need to be resuscitated on a daily basis.

Once Kaiba was checked into the hospital, doctors told his mother, April, that he might not leave alive. Luckily, researchers at the University of Michigan had been working on an experimental new treatment and this was the perfect chance to test it in action.

Using a 3D printer, doctors created a biodegradable plastic implant and surgically placed it into Kaiba’s chest to keep his airway open. Three weeks later, he was off the ventilator and hasn’t had a relapse sense. Most children grow out of the condition by age 2 or 3, about the same amount of time it will take the implant to be naturally absorbed into Kaiba’s body.

A paper about the experimental treatment, which took place in February 2012, was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Check out this video to see Kaiba (now healthy and happy) with his parents as they discuss his treatment:

 

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Photo credit: Youtube

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66 comments

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6:41AM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

This is really a wonderful use for 3D printing technology! I am so glad for the family and the surgical team that they were able to save this baby.

9:42AM PDT on May 30, 2013

wow! that is so cool!

11:33AM PDT on May 28, 2013

I am so happy for the baby and his family. Wonders of science/medicine amaze me.

10:14AM PDT on May 28, 2013

Sweet baby, I'm so glad they were able to help him!

5:32PM PDT on May 27, 2013

Thanks for sharing, technology is truly amazing.

3:36PM PDT on May 27, 2013

interesting. thanks

12:23AM PDT on May 27, 2013

great technology

9:47PM PDT on May 26, 2013

amazing & incredible, life-saving science...

8:58PM PDT on May 26, 2013

The very best to the three of them. Lovely baby.

10:51AM PDT on May 26, 2013

Wonderful news! Thanks for sharing. Glad that baby was saved.

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