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A Youngstown boy was saved by a ground-breaking medical procedure in which doctors implanted a device made by a 3-D printer that helped him overcome a potentially fatal breathing condition.
Kaiba Gionfriddo, who suffers from Tracheobronchomalacia, a collapsed windpipe. Doctors said the condition was so severe doctors decided to try the innovative measure.
Family members said Gionfriddo was only a few weeks old the first time he stopped breathing, and it soon became a regular occurrence.
“I think we were more scared than anything,” said his mother, April Gionfriddo. “We weren’t sure if he was going to make it alive or if there was going to be any way to fix it.”
University of Michigan Dr. Glenn Green and his team designed a tiny plastic splint inserted around Kabia’s bronchus in order to expand his airway. Gionfriddo’s doctors contacted UM, who were developing the device.
“When Dr. Green showed us the model, I was kind of thrilled,” the boy’s father, Bryan Gionfriddo, said. “I was like do it, got to try something.”
Kaiba was three months old when he went into surgery. Doctors had to get emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to perform the procedure.
“Immediately after we put the implant in he started to have normal motion of his lungs on both sides,” Green said.
The splint works as a scaffold, training the bronchus to grow correctly. The device will dissolve on its own in about three years.
Kaiba is now 19 months old and still faces other health issues. But in the year since his surgery, he’s been breathing without trouble. Doctors say the groundbreaking procedure will help other patients in the future.
“We have a new treatment option so children on ventilators do not need to be on ventilators anymore,” Green said.