13 Mar

3-D Printer Helps Baby Breathe

mottnhp01-3106278890-o_new-57cc4bbe2d26787a8c4f9cf8c7b86c62afba585f-s2-c85Picture of baby Garrett and His Mother Natalie Peterson,  courtesy of NPR.

On my way to work this morning, I was Listening to this incredible story on NPR about Garrett, who was born with a defective windpipe.  Apparently, Garrett was born with a defective windpipe. The condition, is called, tracheomalacia.  In Garrett’s case, his  left trachea is so weak that it takes very little for his trachea to collapse, causing him to stop breathing.

Garrett’s parents were able to connect with Dr. Glenn Green fromt he University of Michigan.  Scott Hollister, a biomedical engineer, runs the University’s 3-D Printer, was able to create a splints to hold open little Garrett’s windpipe.

garrett005-cc6213cb95fd193d5b2973f77781c87780bb3d14-s3-c85Pictured right is a model of Garrett’s trachea, along with splints similar to those used in the operation. Picture provided by Juliet Fuller/University of Michigan Health System.

Doctors were able to make a replica of Garrett’s windpipe from a CT scan.  The comparrison was made of a tent that one might use to go camping, that keeps falling down.  The splints were able to keep Garrett’s windpipe open.    A frustrating part of the story was that the device did not have FDA approval.  Hats off to Doctor Green and Scott Hollister for convincing the FDA to issue an emergency waiver.

Long story short, little Garrett has responded very well to the surgery.  He is still on a ventilator but his prognosis for a healthy future is very promising.

Wondering if anyone else happen to hear the story.  It made me think of all the babies who probably did not survive in the past.  It made me think how wonderful and cool technology can be.

Stephen Gonshorek