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Breakthrough Medical 3-D Printing Helps Save Toddler's Life

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local couple says doctors at Children's Hospital and pioneering 3-D printing medical work in Michigan, are the reasons their son is alive and getting stronger.

Ian Orbich, who is just 17 months old, smiles and plays with his mom like any other child these days.

But these early months have been rough.

"He's almost died and we've watched him almost die several times," said Ian's mom Meghan Orbich.

Before Ian was born, Justin and Meghan knew their second son would arrive with heart issues and an undeveloped arm.

"We did everything we could to prepare, but nothing can prepare you for it," said Justin, Ian's father.

The heart issues were addressed by doctors at Children's Hospital, Ian's trachea was restricted.

"The thickness of a quarter is what he was breathing through in his main airway," said Meghan.

Which local doctors were able to open, but an obstruction was still leaving him with trouble breathing.

Then Meghan saw a posting on Facebook of doctors using a 3-D printer at the University of Michigan to create a splint to open airways for two babies. That was exactly Ian's situation.

So next time they were at Children's, "I joked with the surgeon, 'Can't you 3-D print him an airway? They just did it for some other kid,'" said Meghan.

Encouraged by the local doctors, Meghan sent Ian's medical records to Ann Arbor, Mich. And Dr. Glenn Green called the same day he saw Ian's history.

"Telling me that he had reviewed them and Ian was a perfect candidate," Meghan said.

They first did a CT scan and then printed a splint that would perfectly fit Ian. The splint was then installed to open Ian's airway.

"It worked perfectly," said Meghan. "His airways were wide open."

That was May 5 last year.

"He's growing and developing," said Meghan.

The 3-D splint will eventually dissolve away as Ian's bronchus grows.

"We're blessed to have him with us," says Meghan.

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