3D Printer Saves Baby’s Life

Lately, 3D printers have been getting a bad rap because of all the reports about this new technology being used to build undetectable firearms. Click here to see an earlier DigiDame post about the evolution of 3D printing. It’s a pretty miraculous technology that we can all use personally.

Today, I learned that the medical world is employing 3D technology to save lives. TechCrunch, a popular tech news site, reported on how 3D printers were used to make an 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 at the University of Michigan printed 100 tiny tubes and laser-stitched them together over the trachea.”

The baby suffered from a severe version of tracheobronchomalacia, causing his bronchus to collapse. The doctors surgically sewed the 3D-printed splint onto the child’s airway. As soon as the splint was put in, the lungs started going up and down for the first time. Everyone knew he was going to be okay.

When I watched the video above, I had to take a moment to think about how the baby’s doctor went back to the drawing board to design a custom contraption (I can’t think of a better word to describe the splint) that allowed this baby to breathe on his own. It was the first time this was ever done. I can imagine the celebration in the hospital that day.