How 3D printing helped save a baby’s life

3D printing isn’t just for making toys or parts for cars, it also has huge medical benefits too.

April and Bryan Gionfriddo’s son Kaiba was born with severe tracheobronchomalacia, a condition that occurs when the airway walls are weak and collapse, blocking airflow to the lungs. Everyday he would stop breathing and so they turned to doctors at the University of Michigan for help.

Glenn Green, M.D., the associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology, and Scott Hollister, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering and associate professor of surgery, were able to create a clever device that could save Kaiba’s life, and it was made using a 3D printer.

The 3D printed tracheal splint was sewn around Kaiba’s airway to give it a skeleton to aid proper growth. After about three years, when the airway has grown stronger, the splint is then reabsorbed by the body.

To discover more about Kaiba’s incredible story, watch the video below. You then see exactly how the tracheal splint was made by watching the second video.

To find out more about the latest medical gadgets being used to save lives, pick up Issue 68 of How It Works magazine, on sale 2 January.

Plus, take a look at:

NASA 3D prints on the ISS

The first 3D printed car

ESA unveils plans for 3D-printed homes on the Moon