Four-month-old Teegan Lexcen was born with only half a heart and one lung. Doctors in her native Minnesota said there was nothing they could do to save her life, but on Dec. 10, surgeons at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami were able to save the baby by using Google Cardboard and an iPhone (video below).
“The family was given the worst prognosis you can imagine, and they were told that she was inoperable,” Dr. Redomond Burke told CBS Miami. “That’s a word we hate here.”
Burke and his team uploaded X-ray scans of the infant's heart and lung to an iPhone. They placed the iPhone inside Google Cardboard, which costs about $20. By using SketchFab, a free phone app, the surgeons were able to view the baby's 2D X-rays in 3D.
The surgeons used these 3D images as a virtual reality guide to perform a seven-hour, open-heart surgery on the baby.
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“Finding out after the fact that this helped save her life, that’s phenomenal,” Teegan’s mother, Cassidy Lexcen, told the news station.
“Being innovative seems to be the goal of this hospital and these doctors and innovation is what saved our daughter’s life,” she added.
“I went to [Dr. Juan Carlos Muniz] and asked him what imaging technology we could use, and we came up with a repair that had never been done before,” Burke told the Miami Herald. “There are certainly more expensive technologies you could use to look at virtual imaging, but I thought this was really elegant because it’s essentially a cardboard box.”
“This cute little baby inspired all of us because she’s the chunky, happy baby we want her to be,” Burke added. “You won’t find two parents who fight harder for their kids and for their family.”