Reporting Sean Lee
Filed underDaily J AM, Health, Heard on Radio, Local, News, Tech, Technology Report, Watch + Listen
ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – It’s an incredible story: Groundbreaking technology at University of Michigan has saved the life of an infant with no other options.
April Gionfriddo and her family were out to dinner when her 6 week-old son Kaiba, stopped breathing.
“My husband had to lay him on the table and at the restaurant and had to do chest compressions on him,” Gionfriddo said.
Doctors in their Ohio town diagnosed little Kaiba with a rare, but deadly form of a condition called tracheobronchomalacia. It’s a defect that causes the windpipe to collapse, stopping airflow to the lungs.
“I thought that we was gonna lose him at that point,” Gionfriddo said.
Doctors put Kaiba in the ICU, on a ventilator, and sedated him. Gionfriddo said, even with constant monitoring, he still stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated every day.
“Having to sit there and watch your child and hope that he’ll make it. It was just scary,” Gionfriddo said,
Desperate to save the baby, Kaiba’s Ohio surgeon reached out to Dr. Glenn Green, a specialist at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at U of M.
Green and a U of M colleague Doctor Scott Hollister, had already been working on a high-tech solution to treat the condition – a special splint to fit around the windpipe and keep it expanded – to keep kids like Kaiba alive.
“That’s done based on a computer that has a picture of what the child’s defect is, and precisely what would be needed to fix that defect,” said Green. “”We said yeah, we should be able to take care of this.”
Doctor Hollister used computer-aided design, a special polymer dust and a laser to create a custom-designed splint for Kaiba’s windpipe.
The team got emergency F-D-A clearance to use the splint to save Kaiba’s life, and Doctor Green implanted it.
“As soon as we did that, then the lungs started functioning for the first time and we knew that Kaiba would be OK. People in the operating room started cheering,” Green said.
Green said Kaiba’s body will eventually absorb the splint materials and expel them.
His prognosis is good and his parents are grateful.
Said Gionfriddo, “If it wasn’t for them, Kaiba wouldn’t be with us today.”