Splint made by 3D printer used to save baby’s life

‘Vacuum cleaner’ for windpipe created by experts in Michigan hailed as a medical breakthrough

A baby’s life has been saved by using a device to help him breathe created by a 3D printer. The operation, carried out in the US, follows the development of a controversial 3D-printed gun openly available online.

It is hoped that further objects with a more positive purpose, treating other medical conditions, could also be developed through the 3D printing process – structures that are being developed for use in ear, nose and throat surgery.

The groundbreaking intervention was made after the parents of Kaiba Gionfriddo begged doctors to help their six-week-old son, who collapsed and turned blue when the family was at a restaurant. In the following months he stopped breathing regularly and had to be resuscitated on a daily basis.

Kaiba had been born with the main arteries to his heart and lungs misplaced; they were squeezing his windpipe, causing a rare condition called tracheobronchomalacia. Most affected children grow out of it by the age of three, but in severe cases it can cause death.

Doctors working with Professor Scott Hollister, a biomedical engineer at the University of Michigan, used a 3D printer to make a device like a vacuum cleaner hose which was implanted into Kaiba’s chest to act as splint to hold his airway open.

Three weeks after the operation in February 2012 – which has only now been reported, in The New England Journal of Medicine – he was taken off the ventilator and has not had trouble breathing since.

His mother, April, said: “Quite a few doctors warned there was a good chance he would not leave the hospital alive.” Professor Hollister said: “Kaiba’s case is the highlight of my career. To build something that a surgeon can use to save someone’s life – it’s a tremendous feeling.”

Kaiba had been in normal health until the age of six weeks when he began to struggle to breathe. When he was two months, his chest heaved dramatically as he gasped for breath and doctors had to perform a tracheotomy.

Kaiba’s doctors contacted the experts in biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan who were developing a new device for use in patients which would dissolve and be absorbed by the body in a couple of years. They obtained emergency clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to create and implant a tracheal splint.

Glenn Green, associate professor of paediatric otolaryngology at Michigan, said: “Severe tracheobronchomalacia has been a condition that has bothered me for years. I have seen children die from it. Even with the best treatments, Kaiba was imminently going to die. To see this device work is a major accomplishment and offers hope for these children.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Reception Teacher

    £21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: YEAR 1 TEACHER - FUL...

    English Teacher

    £21806 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking to j...

    SEN KS1 Teacher

    £21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Qualified and experi...

    Reception Teacher

    £21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: YEAR 1 TEACHER - FUL...

    Day In a Page

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

    Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

    Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
    Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

    The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

    Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

    Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
    Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

    Meet Japan's AKB48

    Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
    In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

    Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

    The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor