Medical 3D printing helps babies – level 3

08-05-2015 07:00

Researchers at the University of Michigan have released a report showing the results of a study in which infant patients diagnosed with life-threatening tracheobronchial malacia were treated with 3D printed airway splints, allowing them to breathe.

“Three years ago, we were in a situation where we were seeing children die on a regular basis from tracheobronchial malacia, and Scott Hollister and I were working on trying to find a solution to this. While we were working on trying to find a solution, I heard about Kaiba Gionfriddo. Kaiba was in great distress. He was having episodes where it looked like he might die any day. We were able to get approval to move forward with the splint.

The way that the splint was designed, to open up and allow his airway to grow over time, that is exactly what happened to him. The way that the splint was designed to eventually dissolve and leave him with no evidence of ever having had a 3D tracheal splint, that process is taking place. 

It’s been three years now since the splint and it’s wonderful to see all the changes that have happened over these three years. Kaiba’s now running around, he’s playing with his family. It’s wonderful and beyond anything that I could have hoped for.”

All three babies were the first in the world to receive the treatment a few years ago and are now functioning well.

“So after Kaiba, we had two other children that had very similar situations that came to us. And to know that we had a process in play, we were able to be much quicker about designing it and the process went much smoother for the other children.

And it’s similarly been exciting to watch as these children went from a situation where it looks like their parents would have to be preparing for their funerals, and instead they’re watching their children grow and develop. Watching these children now, able to go and function well, able to be at home with their families, able to enjoy the holidays with their families, is so exciting to see.”

Difficult words: infant (baby), tracheobronchial malacia (when you cannot breathe because air cannot come into your lungs), splint (a thing that keeps something up or open), distress (pain), episode (a situation), dissolve (to turn into nothing over time), function (to act in normal situations), process (steps to get something done), develop (to change over time).



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