Groundbreaking 3D-Printed, Custom-Designed Device Saves Baby's Life

Six-week old Kaiba Gionfriddo was suffering from severe, life-threatening tracheobronchomalacia - collapse of the windpipe which blocks breathing - when his parents found hope at the University of Michigan. There, Glenn Green, M.D. and Scott Hollister, Ph.D., obtained emergency clearance from the FDA to create and implant a tracheal splint for Kaiba made from a biopolymer called polycaprolactone. Green and Hollister made the custom-designed, custom-fabricated device using high-resolution imaging and computer-aided design. The device was created directly from a CT scan of Kaiba's trachea/bronchus, integrating an image-based computer model with laser-based 3D printing to produce the splint. In February, 2012, the splint was sewn around Kaiba's airway to expand the bronchus and give it a skeleton to aid proper growth. It will be reabsorbed by the body over the course of three years. Kaiba was off ventilator support 21 days after the procedure, and now, at 20 months old, he has not had breathing trouble since.