A (literal) Breath of Fresh Air…

After taking Professor Freeman’s Creativity and Innovation class last semester, I have had a growing interest is 3-D printing which is why I felt drawn to this article (posted on NPR yesterday). A few posts below, we learn of advancements in the digitization of medicine and now, the incorporation of advancements in digital technology being used in surgical procedures.


Little Garrett Peterson was born with tracheomalacia and was unable to breath on his own, suffering many, many nights in the hospital (along with his parents), until doctors and engineers out of the University of Michigan were able to use 3-D printing to make a device to hold open Garrett’s windpipe until it can grow strong enough to work solely on its own.

We learn from he article on NPR.com, that doctors first took a CT scan of Garrett’s windpipe so they could make a 3-D replica of it. Next, they used a3-D printer to design and create a “splint” (a small, white flexible tube tailored to fit around the weakest parts of Garrett’s windpipe). Dr. Glenn Green shared that the splint is “…like a protective shell that goes on the outside of the windpipe and it allows [it] to be tacked to the inside of that shell to open it up directly.”


It’s amazing that a technology that is generally used to create objects, jewelry, and art is now transitioning into the medical world to create devices that are literally providing a breath of fresh air for many as well as saving their lives! The part that really hit home for me was seeing how a little boy never had healthy lungs and even suffered to the point that one lung collapsed, but to read about how breath literally filled his lungs (making them healthy and pink) is just truly amazing!

How can advancements like this one in the surgical field help so many suffering people? The possibilities to create with 3-D printing are endless, so I am curious to see how the two “worlds” continue to merge to save lives!

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One Response to A (literal) Breath of Fresh Air…

  1. sydhavely says:

    Incredible story–thanks for posting.

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