3D Printing Helps Fix Child’s Heart, Save Life
3D printing has been creeping its way into the healthcare industry, slowly but surely, over the last few years. We have seen 3D printed human tissue, 3D printed prosthetics of all types, and now 3D printing is being used as roland-1a model for doctors to better envision particular procedures.
Roland Lian Cung Bawi, the 14 month old son of two Burmese immigrants, now residing in Owensboro, Kentcky, had major defects to his tiny little heart. The defects, which included a hole in his heart as well as misaligned aorta and pulmonary arteries, if untreated would have doomed Roland to a short unhealthy life. This is when Surgeon Erle Austin stepped in. Austin initially had 2D images of Roland’s heart, which he showed to several other surgeons, on his path to correct Roland’s condition. The problem was that the 2D scans were not precise enough, leading to several surgeons offering different suggestions on how to proceed. This is not the kind of advice a surgeon likes to roland-2receive, leading up to a major operation.
This is when Austin decided to turn to the School of Engineering at Louisville. They used a Makerbot Replicator 2X, 3D Printer to create a model of Roland’s heart, and all its defects. The model was printed in 3 separate pieces so that the surgeons could take it apart and see the interior.
“Once I had a model, I knew exactly what I needed to do and how I could do it,” said Austin to the Courier Journal, “It was a tremendous benefit.”
Having the model 3D printed allowed Austin to cut out a significant part of exploratory surgeries, and also shorten the time it took to operate on the tiny, delicate heart. The surgery was successfully completed on Monday, February 10th, and marked the first use of a 3D printer in the state of Kentucky for a pediatric heart patient. Roland is doing well and his family is relieved.