Score one for technology: Doctors 3D-printed an emergency airway tube that saved a 20-month old baby boy’s life. After imaging the boy’s faulty windpipe, doctors at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital printed 100 tiny tubes and laser-stitched them together over the trachea (video below).
“Quite a few of the doctors said that he had a good chance of not leaving the hospital alive,” said the mother of the baby boy, who suffered from a severe version of tracheobronchomalacia, causing his bronchus to collapse.
Desperate for a solution, the doctors obtained emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to surgically sew the 3D-printed splint on the child’s airway. “It was amazing. As soon as the splint was put in, the lungs started going up and down for the first time and we knew he was going to be OK,” said University of Michigan Professor Dr. Glenn Green, who came up with save-saving solution, with his partner Dr. Scott Hollister.
“The material we used is a nice choice for this. It takes about two to three years for the trachea to remodel and grow into a healthy state, and that’s about how long this material will take to dissolve into the body,” added Hollister.
Considering that most of the news around 3D printers has been about lethal, undetectable firearms, it’s nice to know that people are also using humanity’s newly found technological powers for good.