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Nate Yamane’s is an 18-month-old baby with a rare disease which caused the Childs pulmonary arteries to narrow down to dangerous levels, causing the blood to barely pass through them. In such cases the doctor’s use stets which open up the passage in the veins and the blood can pass through, however, in this case, the child’s tiny pulmonary artery had narrowed to just 9 millimetres. Stents which were available could not be used in this case hence there was a need for a custom made solution.

Nate’s condition is known as Tetralogy of Fallot which arose due to his pulmonary artery not forming properly while in Utero. This also causes difficulties in breathing as the pulmonary artery was obstructed, preventing blood flow from the heart to the lungs. The child had to undergo 2 bypass surgeries in the first 2 months of his life but his condition just kept deteriorating

The Child was then referred to the special care of Dr. Frank Ing the Director of Division of Cardiology and Co-director of the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. After Initial examination Dr. Ing came to a conclusion that Nate would require custom-made stent which would help save his life, he decided to take the help of 3D printing and a 3D Model to get exact measurements for the stent.

Dr. Frank Ing used CT scans of the child’s heart and then 3d printed a model of it, this helped him fashion a special, tiny stent to fit exactly into the narrowed artery from the 3D model. The results were successful: Nate’s oxygen level improved overnight.

Talking about the surgery procedure Dr. Ing said, “The 3D model was very helpful because it gave me confidence that [the size of the stent] was going to work." He further added “Imagine blood flowing in the artery like cars on the freeway, and it’s blocked. Cars exit and find an alternate route to its destination; blood does the same, and in this case finds its way through collateral vessels to the lungs,”

Photo: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Little Nate was operated on the left pulmonary artery first which had narrowed down to 15mm which improved his condition drastically. However, he was too weak hence the doctors had to wait for a few months so that he could gain weight and be able to take the stress to handle the difficult surgery.

With a lot of efforts by Nate’s parents and under the special care of doctors, Nate became stable and the final surgery was scheduled for January 19, 2017. This time around Dr. Ing inserted a smaller stent which was made with the help of the 3D Model of his heart. The whole surgery was streamed live to international cardiologists.

 Photo: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

The surgery was an instant success as Nate’s blood oxygen levels improved and his blood pressure to become normal. The doctors are now hoping that Nate’s ordeal is now over and soon he would be able to lead a normal life.

Nate’s mother said that he is now “rolling around with energy and even took his first baby steps. There are a big difference and a lot of improvement. We’re going in the right direction.” We wish him all the luck and hope that Medical application of 3d printing becomes more common so that many more lives can be saved.

Tags: 3D Printing, 3D Print, 3D Printed, 3D Model


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