U of M Uses 3D Printing to Breathe New Life Into Child

Posted at 7:59 PM, Mar 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-18 20:13:59-04

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (March 18, 2014)–For the second time ever, doctors at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital used 3D printing to save a child’s life.

The Peterson family, originally from Utah, is now planning on heading home for the first time ever with their 18-month-old son Garrett, a day they feared would never come.

Natalie Peterson, Garrett’s mom, says he would sometimes turn blue four to five times a day and many times they couldn’t even pick him up for fear of what it could do.

Despite being on ventilators on the highest settings, Garrett’s breathing would still stop at times.

Garrett’s condition puts severe pressure on his airways, so bad it caused them to collapse to the point they became just small slits.

Then in May, the Peterson’s came across an article about another baby with Garrett’s similar condition who survived and is doing well after doctors created a device with 3D printing.

The family eventually flew Garrett to Ann Arbor to meet with Dr. Glenn Green, associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology and Dr. Scott Hollister, professor of biomedical engineering at U of M.

The two worked together off a CT scan of Garrett’s trachea and bronchi, combining an image based computer model with laser-based 3D printing.

Doctors then sewed the custom fit and fabricated splints made from a biopolymer around Garrett’s left and right bronchi to help expand his airways and give it support for proper growth.  Over the next three years doctors say they will be reabsorbed by his body.

During Garrett’s surgery, doctors could see his lungs inflate.

His parents are now looking forward to a future they never thought was possible. Garrett has even been able to breathe off the ventilator for short periods of time.