Amir was born with flimsy airways and two holes in his heart.
Photo: WSB-TV
Photo: WSB-TV

Experimental 3D-printed splints used in baby’s 10-hour surgery at CHOA

A baby boy born with fragile airways is doing better after experimental 3D-printed splints were placed in his body during surgery.

Amir has congenital heart disease and tracheo-bronchomalacia, a condition that causes life-threatening airway obstruction. A surgery performed on him by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta last month was Georgia’s first procedure to place 3D-printed tracheal splints in a pediatric patient, a press release said. 

Amir’s mother, Linda Long, told Channel 2 Actions News that her baby would cry constantly, but she didn’t know what was wrong with him. 

“I wanted to help him, but I couldn't,” Long said.

During Amir’s six-month stay in CHOA’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, he experienced “frequent episodes of airway collapse that could not be corrected by typical surgery protocols,” the news release said. The 3D-printed tracheal splint is a new device still under development, so CHOA had to get emergency clearance from the FDA to move forward.

Dr. Kevin Maher, a pediatric cardiologist, said Amir was “about as sick as you possibly can be” before the surgery.

"It was really one of the more stunning things I've seen in my career," Maher told Channel 2. "To take a child that was that sick and to really provide a treatment that otherwise did not exist."

The splints placed in Amir during the 10-hour surgery will eventually be absorbed into his body, allowing for expansion of the trachea and bronchus. The three custom splints were created by biomedical engineers at Georgia Tech.

Doctors say Amir’s prognosis looks good, Channel 2 reported. 

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