This is a medical first. Kaiba Gionfriddo, a young boy from Ohio, has had a life-threatening condition since birth. Thanks to a breakthrough in medicine, however, his life has been saved. Doctors, using new technology, have ‘printed’ a 3-dimensional airway tube that allows him to breathe normally.
“Because of a birth defect, the little Ohio boy's airway kept collapsing,” writes the Huffington Post, “causing his breathing to stop and often his heart, too.” Apparently, with each incident, his face would even turn blue. The boy was predicted to not leave the hospital alive.
At the University of Michigan, however, doctors had been working on a solution to issues just like this. They “had recently obtained a new, bioresorbable device” that they thought could be of use to Gionfriddo. “In just one day,” writes RT, “they used computer-controlled lasers to print out 100 tiny plastic tubes that they stacked and fused together.”
The doctors had to obtain “special permission” from the Food and Drug Administration before they could proceed. The next day, one of the tubes was implanted into Gionfriddo’s airway, the first time anything of this nature had ever been attempted.
Now 19-months-old, Gionfriddo is breathing regularly and has had no bad incidents with the device. Dr. Robert Weatherly, a pediatric specialist at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, says that this type of procedure is “the wave of the future.”
A reported 2,000 children are born with a similar defect each year, though “most outgrow them by age 2 or 3, as more tissue develops,” says the Huffington Post.
Dr. John Bent, a pediatric specialist at Einstein College of Medicine in New York, says he “can think of a handful of children I have seen in the last two decades who suffered greatly… that likely would have benefited from this technology.” We’ll have to wait to see, though, if this procedure proves to be a permanent solution for Gionfriddo’s issue.