Baby's life saved using 3D printer - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Baby's life saved using 3D printer

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The Peterson Family The Peterson Family
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A family lived in fear that their baby boy was going to die. A severe and rare birth defect made it impossible for him to breathe. However, they discovered a pioneering procedure conducted by a doctor far away.

Baby Garret's parents, Natalie and Jake Peterson, have waited 18 months since he was born to be told Garrett can finally go home.

"I think it's a miracle," said Natalie.

Garrett was born with a heart defect that caused a severe and life threatening problem. His tiny windpipe collapsed.

Not able to breathe, Garrett would often turn blue, needing resuscitation. He's spent every minute in a hospital on a ventilator.

"We were told there were no other options, he was life on a ventilator. He was on such high ventilator settings, if he got a cold he probably wouldn't make it," added Natalie.

However, on January 31st after traveling from suburban Salt Lake City, Utah to the University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital, Garrett had a pioneering procedure using devices made in a 3D printer.

"It's very exciting, the biggest breakthrough since medical school," said Dr. Glenn Green.

An ear, nose and throat surgeon, Green spent years developing the idea. They created a mold of Garrett's windpipe with a CT scan and 3D printer. Then, they used that same 3D printer to create precise splints that will wrap around the windpipe.

"Just like tent poles on the outside of the tent would be, holding the windpipe open," added Green.

Bioengineer Scott Hollister helped turned the concept into reality. The 3D printer uses a powder that will eventually be reabsorbed by the body.

The goal is to make parts like ears and noses that will help stimulate cell and tissue growth.

"An arm sweeps a layer of power across to the build area, there's a laser beam that's driven by the design in the machine and that laser beam melts the particles together to form the 3D structure," said Hollister.

Doctors believe that Garrett's windpipe will strengthen with support from the splints.

The Peterson family can't wait to watch their baby boy grow.

"It's fun to see his personality come out, he's so happy," said Jake.

"It's a miracle we're gonna take him home. He's gonna have a normal life and before he wouldn't have lasted much longer," added Natalie.

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