3D Printer helps doctor plan for complicated heart surgery

By  | 

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- On Wednesday a baby boy, not even two weeks old, will undergo heart surgery necessary to save his life.

Inside Children's Hospital & Medical Center Doctor Jim Hamel explains to Megan and Aaron Rastovski what the rubber-like model is in their hands. It’s an exact replica of their 13 day-old son Trajan's heart.

"We did that with his heart because of the complexity of it," said Dr. Hammel.

It’s new technology that helps surgeons better prepare for unique, complicated operations.

"Just knowing that this is the only thing that is keeping him from being a normal little baby is right in the palm of your hand," said Aaron.

Before birth, Trajan was diagnosed with a very complicated heart defect.

"The chambers are twisted relative to each other, and there is a hole between the two pumping chambers, and the arteries that come out of the heart are crossed so that they come out of the wrong chambers,” said Hammel.

Surgery is Trajan's only chance for survival. Since it’s such a unique surgery, Trajan's doctors are using a new technology to help them plan. They’ve already practiced on an exact replica of Trajan's heart made with a 3-D printer.

With this Doctor Hammel, who is doing Trajan's operation, can more easily choose the best course for surgery. This new technology won’t just be used for Trajan’s surgery.

“We are making print-outs of many children's hearts and spending the time to look at them, and correlating to what I see in the operating room, so we can learn what are the utilities of this new technology,” said Hammel.

The Rastovski's are feeling the nerves that come before surgery. It's why they preemptively named their son Trajan, after a roman emperor.
"Then we thought we just needed a fighting name,” said Megan.

"Yeah it is pretty easy to see that he is not going to give up anytime soon," said Aaron.

Trajan's surgery is at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Doctors say his case is unique. Doctor Hammel says it will be during surgery that he will determine if this is the only operation Trajan will need.

Children's was approached by The Goldwin Foundation, a group that works to advance medical research and technology. Hamel says the Goldwin Foundation provided the grant to purchase the special equipment and then Children’s Hospital made the models on site.