3D printed splints helps baby breathe better

ANN ARBOR - For the entire 18 months of his life, little Garrett Peterson has been living in a hospital.

Born with a breathing condition, he has been hooked to ventilators and dependent on medications.

“When he was born, he was so sensitive to everything,” said Garrett’s mother, Natalie Peterson.  “Like when the nurses would just move his head from side to side because of his compromised airways, he would just turn blue instantly.  I will never forget the first time seeing him like that.  It was hard."

But new technology at the University of Michigan hospital is changing the baby boy’s life.

Garrett’s airways were flattened. To fix it, doctor’s at U of M’s CS Mott Children’s hospital inserted 3D printed splints into his airways.

This is the second time the procedure has ever been done in the world.

“The nice thing about this is that it will actually degrade in the body over time said U of M Professor of Biomedical Engineering Scott Hollister.  “Our hope is that it takes about three years for the material to degrade.  By that time, the trachea will have time to grow and remodel into a trachea with a normal architecture.”

Garrett’s parents were thrilled with the outcome.

"I think he needed this surgery,” said Natalie Peterson.

His parents are now hopeful for their baby’s future.

Garrett's doctors are now working to wean him off all of his medicine.

They are hoping he will be able to go home with his parents within the month.  

Meanwhile, researchers at U of M are hoping to build body parts, like the nose and ear to use for surgery soon with 3D technology.

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