Doctors save baby's life using 3D-printed splint

3D printing doesn’t have to be limited to tchotchkes. The production method has already proven its utility in surgery, and now a doctor has used 3D printing to help save a baby’s life. The baby was born with a condition known as tracheomalacia that left him with a trachea susceptible to collapsing and cutting off his air supply. University of Michigan doctor Glenn Green used a 3D-printed “splint” to support the trachea in an emergency procedure, and so far the results have been extremely promising. 

Ever since the day Garrett Peterson was born, his parents have had to watch him suddenly just stop breathing. “He could go from being totally fine to turning blue sometimes — not even kidding — in 30 seconds,” says Garrett’s mother, Natalie Peterson, 25, of Layton, Utah. “It was so fast. It was really scary.” Garrett was born with a defective windpipe. His condition, known as tracheomalacia, left his trachea so weak the littlest thing makes it collapse, cutting off his ability to breathe. “When he got upset, or even sometimes just with a diaper change, he would turn completely blue,” his mother says, “and that was terrifying.”

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