3D printed airway saves infant's life

3D printed airway saves infant's life

Summary: Doctor's were able to print a special custom airway for a 20-month-old baby and save his life.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Health
23

I can't help it. There's just something about 3D printing that fascinates me. Maybe it's because I watched all of DS9 with my husband, and during each shopping trip to the local Publix I wonder when you techies are going to invent a replicator. I'm still waiting because I am not a huge fan of cooking.

The point is that 3D printing is cool. Sure, there will soon be 3D pizza printing in outer space, and you've probably heard about the entire explosion around 3D printing of guns.

But, like any major technology both good and bad come from 3D printing. Nuclear technology is one example. We got the nuclear bomb and we also got nuclear medicine, credited with saving and improving millions of lives.

This is just as true with 3D printing, and a story on sister site CBSNews.com is a perfect case in point.

An Ohio baby was born with a condition called "tracheobronchomalacia," a breathing condition that results in collapsed airways. Think of what happens with your garden hose when you squeeze it tight: no water comes out. Well, with the infant boy, Kaiba, his tracheal support cartilage simply wouldn't stay open.

For months, the child survived with intubation, which is as unpleasant as it sounds, especially for a little baby. But then doctors at UMich were recruited to help. They'd been working on developing technology for generating flexible tubing that could be used in situations like that of little Kaiba's. With an emergency exemption from the FDA (sometimes, the government can actually be helpful), the surgery went forward.

Two weeks after surgery he was breathing normally, without turning blue or needing emergency medical assistance. What's particularly interesting about the University of Michigan technology is that it's supposed to absorb into the body over years, once the child's own cartilage builds up as he grows into adolescence.

It's another win for medical technology, and another reason we can't simply judge a technology as good or bad. Remember, it's what you do with it.

Now, here's a quick tip: breathing is good for you. Take a few deep breaths, hold them for a few seconds and let them out. You'll feel better. Do it in honor of the UMich docs and little Kaiba.

Topic: Health

About

Denise Amrich is a Registered Nurse, the health care advisor for the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute, and a mentor for the Virtual Campus at Florida's Brevard Community College.


Nothing in this article is meant to be a substitute for medical advice, and shouldn't be considered as such. If you are in need of medical help, please see your doctor.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

23 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Good deal

    Very good deal there.
    Lets see what else they make.
    MoeFugger
  • You make it sound like 3D printing is being used for

    good and evil. So far I haven't heard of any evil. The first plastic guns didn't come out of a 3D printer. Nor did plastic knives nor ceramic weapons. Evil comes from inside people not printers. Over 1000 people murdered in Iraq last month, no plastic involved.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Nice job ignoring the clear distinction

      that printing guns allows anyone to bypass ALL regulations, and use the weapon with virtually no chance of being identified.
      For those with legal uses for weapons, there is NO reason they can not go through legitimate channels.
      .DeusExMachina.
  • You make it sound like 3D printing is being used for

    good and evil. So far I haven't heard of any evil. The first plastic guns didn't come out of a 3D printer. Nor did plastic knives nor ceramic weapons. Evil comes from inside people not printers. Over 1000 people murdered in Iraq last month, no plastic involved.
    Johnny Vegas
  • You make it sound like 3D printing is being used for

    good and evil. So far I haven't heard of any evil. The first plastic guns didn't come out of a 3D printer. Nor did plastic knives nor ceramic weapons. Evil comes from inside people not printers. Over 1000 people murdered in Iraq last month, no plastic involved.
    Johnny Vegas
  • Umm...

    Just printing a 3D gun would not be using the technology for evil (remember guns have their uses for good as well), it is all up to what is dones with that gun afterwards.
    cmwade1977
    • Nice job with the false equivalence

      The issue is not guns, it is printing of guns. So arguing that guns have uses for good is TOTALLY irrelevant.
      .DeusExMachina.
  • Two for two

    Doctors did this the first time in Peoria Illinois about a month ago on a little girl. They printed the replacement frame first, then grew the rest from her own stem cells. That's two for two for the 3D printers.
    kseverinsen@...
  • typical political correctness

    calling guns or the printing (manufacturing) of guns evil just shows how people have been conditioned by todays media.

    as an example, when someone is involved in a hit and run that results in a fatality, no one blames the car or the car manufacturer, they blame the person in control (or the person that was supposed to be in control) of the car.. however if someone shoots someone else, somehow it is the guns fault.
    grumbolt
    • Yes, but...

      The difference being that a gun's purpose by design is to kill. A car's purpose by design is to transport. Is the 'gun' to blame? Of course not. But making it easier for folks to get hold of a weapon without a proper background check is like allowing folks to drive that car without obtaining a driver's license. Both increase the odds of something bad happening.
      rlopinto
      • logic fallacy

        First, licensing of driving is a joke. It is nothing more than a tax mechanism (in the USA,at least) and a default ID system and little more. Having a license does not mean you are competent in any skill.

        Yes, a gun is designed to kill. Fertilizer is not designed to kill. Very small comfort, in deed, for the 168 killed and the more than 680 wounded in the Oklahoma city bombing. So feed your philosophy to them and see what it gets you.

        Speaking of odds, why did you neglect running the odds of my 21 year-old daughter getting home safe and sound should she have to walk alone (for whatever reason) and run into a person twice her size and strength with or without a gun that she controls? Right. I'm much more confident that she'll be safe with the gun than without. It is a tool. Nothing more and nothing less, as this thread root stated.
        JScottA44
        • Unless..

          what if the other guy has a gun? What if everyone has a gun? I'm not comfortable in a society where everyone will have a gun. What if someone doesn't like the way you parked your car? It's ok the gun in the glove compartment was legal. I grew up with guns but since then everyone in my family gave their guns to the authorities for destruction. If everyone can have a gun then any idiot can have one. We talk about driving licences but you don't need to do anything to prove that you are responsible to have a gun licence. Atleast with a car you have to take a test. In the UK gun laws are stricter and so are the driving laws. If you carry a knife of any kind it is illegal.
          jsargent
          • There's a reason a gun is called the "great equalizer"

            If you're not comfortable with a society where everyone has a gun, you probably feel the same way about anyone being able to say whatever they want, read or watch whatever they want, cops stopping and frisking you just because they don't like how you look, being considered guilty of a crime before even being tried for it, no right to remain silent, the government seizing your property whenever they claim they need it, the government making you provide room and board for soldiers or criminals or homeless people they assign to you (with no financial compensation or opportunity to object.)

            In short, you are not comfortable with personal responsibility or freedom.

            So be a good little slave and shut the heck up.
            Dr_Zinj
          • Yet another in a long line of your misinformer comments.

            First, your very first statement is a clear logical fallacy. Not only a straw man argument, but several others as well.
            Here let me rephrase for you in a a way that is logically consistent with your statement:
            "If you're not comfortable with a society where everyone has a Alzheimer's, you probably feel the same way about anyone being able to say whatever they want, read or watch whatever they want…" etc..
            There is NO per se logical connection between the precedent and the antecedent.
            As for your nonsense about guns being the great equalizer, that all falls apart as soon as you try to explain away the fact that a woman carrying a gun for self-defense is 500% more likely to be shot with their own gun than to use it to denfend themselves.
            .DeusExMachina.
          • And even WORSE in

            Australia!! BOTH of which citizens are warning us of the abject failure of their policies! BOTH countries are 'living' proof of the saying "when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns!"
            So to address your fears, do a little (and all it TAKES is a little) research and you will find, that here in the US the places that have zero gun murders and violence, are the places where all citizens ARE RRQUIRED TO BE ARMED!
            Why is this so? Because all criminals are cowards! Their boldness is in THEM being armed, and you not! When they suspect there's a chance in you being armed, they avoid the area! People will kill, gun or no!
            barefoot1976
        • Do you even know what a logical fallacy is?

          Because you didn't list one. You simony made arguments against premises. Incorrect premises do not a logical fallacy make.
          There was no logical fallacy involved. But let's look at your debate over premises. Licensing is actually several things beyond a tax mechanism (though it is that). Claiming that there is no affect on skill level of those on the street is beyond absurd, bordering on the idiotic. Anyone who has tried to teach a teenager to drive knows full well that the driver's test is a VERY important barrier to true incompetence.
          Next, the fact that guns are designed to kill is on reason (among many) that almost no murders are committed with fertilizer. You are making a false equivalence argument, and that IS a logical fallacy.
          As to your last nonsense, yes, let's run the odds. If your 21 year old daughter has a gun, she is 500% more likely to be shot with it than to be able to use it to defend herself.
          Yes, guns are tools. The question is for what. Just because you intend to use a tool for good does NOT mean that is how it will turn out. Just ask any carpenter how many times they have hit their own finger with their hammer.
          .DeusExMachina.
      • More people die from cars than from guns /sigh

        Worse, you have a very good chance of committing a murder with a car and never being caught. And prosecution is going to be way less even if you are.
        Dr_Zinj
      • Licensed Driver?

        What good is the written test in the US? The test are available in several languages all in the name of political correctness. Road signs are not. What's the point of the written test now?
        GhengisKhan
        • One does not need to speak English to read street signs.

          And being that the signs used in the written test at NOT in the alternate language, what on earth is your point?!?
          .DeusExMachina.
      • Car -vs- Gun

        I am sure the approximate 30,000 to 40,000 killed on our roadways each year can appreciate your distinction between the two. Obviously ensuring that people are qualified to operate a motor vehicle is a resounding success with the licensing system in place.
        GhengisKhan