Baby saved by 3-D printed implant
ANN ARBOR, MICH., May 22, 2013 (WPVI) -- The first months of life were frightening ones for the parents of Caiba Gionfriddo. Just 6 weeks old, he suddenly stopped breathing. And it happened again and again.
But he's a medical pioneer, saved by a splint made by a 3D printer which keeps air going to his lungs.
Three-dimensional printing has gotten a lot of attention lately.
Instead of printing on paper with ink, it uses special liquids to build up layers, until you have a 3-D object.
Now, doctors have used it to make an implantable device that saved a baby's life.
Caiba was born with a condition that allowed a major airway to his lungs to collapse.
He'd stop breathing without warning, and doctors said he could die.
But using a CT scan of his airway, a computer design program, and a 3-D printer, doctors at the University of Michigan made a splint for it.
They implanted the device about a year ago.
Dr. Glenn Green, who helped develop the device, says, "It was amazing. As soon as the splint was put in, the lungs started going up & down for the first time, and we knew he was going to be OK."
The tiny device is made from a biodegradable polyester that is gradually being absorbed as Caiba's body grows, and develops a healthy airway.
At the time of this video, he sometimes needed a ventilator.
But now, he breathes completely on his own.
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