Last year, when a research team from the University of Michigan heard about a little boy named Kaiba Gionfriddo, they used modern technology to help him breathe again. Kaiba was born with a respiratory problem that caused his windpipe to collapse daily.
The researchers suggested that a 3D printer may be able to provide a solution, and Kaiba's parents jumped at the opportunity. Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the team studied Kaiba’s respiratory system through modern imaging, which they then used to create 3D replicas of his airways.
The splint that would help support Kaiba’s breathing was then 3D printed and sewn around his airways to expand his bronchial tubes. Twenty-one days after the surgery, Kaiba was off ventilator support, and has not needed it since.