3D Printed Implant Saves Baby's Life

Guest_Jim_* - May 24, 2013 08:52AM in Science & Technology

The thought of having to bury one's child is certainly terrifying to parents and can only be worse when that child is only an infant. Some parents do have to live that nightmare because of a number of illnesses, such as tracheomalacia which will cause an infant to stop breathing. For one Ohio family though, the terror ended as researchers at the University of Michigan were able to create an implant to let their baby breath.

Tracheomalacia is a condition where the cartilage around the trachea is unable to support the air pipe, allowing it to collapse and cutoff breathing. Most children grow out of it in a few years, but for some severe cases, resuscitation can be required daily. The doctors had little hope and the parents were desperate, so the University of Michigan researchers were contacted, as they had in fact been working on a device to treat the condition. With emergency clearance from the FDA and scans of the baby's trachea and bronchus, the researchers printed an implant specially designed to wrap around the organs and keep them from collapsing. Just three weeks after the device was implanted, the baby was taken off his ventilator and has had no trouble breathing since.

In roughly two to three years, the baby's trachea will grow into a healthy state and no longer need the implant, which fortunately will actually have dissolved into the body at the same time. The researchers are understandably proud of their work as it went from something to might save a life, to saving one and the parents could not be more relieved.

Source: University of Michigan Health System