3D Printing Saves Baby’s Life with Biopolymer Tracheal Implant

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Kaiba 3D Printed Splint Medical First

Baby Saved by 3D Printed Device

Kaiba Gionfriddo has severe tracheomalacia, a condition where the trachea collapses when increased airflow is required. Tracheomalacia is a rare condition that occurs in about 1 in 2,200 children.

“He was six weeks old when we were at a restaurant for dinner one night when he stopped breathing and turned blue on us,” explained Kaiba Gionfriddo’s mother.

Kaiba’s parents had no choice but to watch helplessly as their baby stopped breathing nearly every day, until University of Michigan doctors  saved his life using a device created with a 3D printer.

Breakthrough Medical Procedure

The doctors used 3D modeling software to design a splint that would fit perfectly to Kaiba’s trachea. Then with the help of 3D printing, they quickly constructed the splint to be used as an implant.

Dr. Glenn Green of the University of Michigan said, “We obtained imaging of his defect with a CT scan. Scott Hollister rapidly went about designing a splint that would meet this need. This is the first time this procedure has been done anywhere in the world.”

The doctors used a biopolymer – a plastic that can be used in the body – as the material in a 3D printer to create the splint that was then placed over the top of the bronchus.

“It was amazing,” said Dr. Green, “As soon as the splint was put in, the lungs started going up and down for the first time. We knew he would be okay.”

Below is a video of Kaiba’s incredible story.


About University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital

Since 1903, the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital has led the way in providing comprehensive, specialized health care for children. From leading-edge heart surgery that’s performed in the womb to complete emergency care that’s there when you need it, families from all over come to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital for our pediatric expertise. In 2013, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital was ranked eighth in the nation in Parents Magazine’s 10 Best Children’s Hospitals ranking. Learn more about The Michigan Difference at www.mottchildren.org.


Hat tip to Hack Things for this story.

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One Response to 3D Printing Saves Baby’s Life with Biopolymer Tracheal Implant

  1. Bernhard V. says:


    I’m touched by how this great technology that I work with every day has been used to save a human life.

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