How a Broken 3D Printer Saved A Newborn

Google Cardboard Comes to the Rescue

Google Cardboard

Although there has been a huge rise in the use of 3D printing for surgical support, sometimes it is worth having a contingency plan if something goes wrong!

Google Cardboard is a contraption which costs less than $20 but it helped to save the life of baby Teegan, who was so sick that her parents had been told to take her home to die as comfortably as possible.

Although the technology looks very basic, the cardboard contraption, which works with an iPhone to create a 3D virtual reality, was the key to solving a surgical mystery, meaning Teegan was able to live.

Thanks to, what looks like a big pair of goggles, doctors at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami were able to plan an operation which they claim could not have been envisioned otherwise.

Why was the Google Cardboard used?

Teegan Lexcen was born in August with only one lung, and almost all of the left half of her heart is missing. Her parents, Cassidy and Chad Lexcen, were told by doctors in Minnesota that there was nothing they could do. However, two months later, baby Teegan was still alive and her parents were determined to find someone to help her.

It was a broken 3D printer which came to the rescue, sort of. Doctors at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital looked at pictures of Teegan’s heart and some were skeptical as to whether they could do anything.

Dr. Juan Carlos Muniz, a pediatric cardiologist who specializes in imaging, was asked to make a 3D model of Teegan’s heart as it had helped in complicated cases before. However, their 3D printer was broken.

Muniz was then forced to come up with a different option – thankfully he had heard about using virtual reality for helping with children’s hearts.

Muniz had bought a Google Cardboard device and had been playing around with it – but with a broken 3D printer, he had the chance to put it properly to use! He used an app called Sketchfab and downloaded images of Teegan’s heart onto his iPhone, which he then showed to Dr. Burke.

Using the goggles, the doctors were able to move around and see the heart from every angle, so they were able to visualize what could be done to fix Teegan’s heart.

The best news is, with the help of this technology, only four weeks after her surgery, baby Teegan was taken off a ventilator and able to breathe on her own!