3-D Printed Trachea Saves Baby's Life

A baby stopped breathing due to a collapsed trachea. Doctors
and researchers used a 3-D printer to save his life.
You've seen toys and prosthetics made on a 3-D printer but now, scientists are using 3-D printers to build implants that help babies breathe. Almost every day 18 month old Garrett Peterson stopped breathing due to a collapsed trachea. Luckily, doctors and researchers received FDA emergency clearance to use a 3-D printer to save his life.

He was only the second infant in the world to receive an implant that would hold his trachea open.  It's a one-of-a-kind splint made out of material that will eventually absorb back into the body. The splint was created from CT scan images of Garrett's trachea. The images were used to make a 3-D model of Garrett's collapsed trachea to make sure it was a perfect fit and with the ability to print it using a 3D printer, the results were immediate.

Garrett's trachea will gradually grow into place and the splint will dissolve over three years. Today, Garrett is able to breathe on his own and growing into a healthy little boy.

The doctors are also working on bio-resorbable ears, noses, jaw bones and facial tissues.  They believe they can help people born without these body parts, or those who have lost them in an accident.