A clinical trial to outline the benefits of using 3-D printed hearts for surgery was recently funded by the nonprofit organization Matthew’s Hearts of Hope. Read more about this on our sister blog, Vector.
Jason Ayres, a family doctor in Alabama, was speechless as he held his adopted son’s heart in his hands — well, a replica of his son’s heart, an exact replica, 3-D printed before the three-year-old boy had lifesaving open-heart surgery.
Patrick Ayres was one of the Boston Children’s Hospital’s first beneficiaries of 3-D printing, which in 2015 helped open a new frontier in pediatric cardiac surgery.
Patrick was born with numerous cardiac problems; in addition to double outlet right ventricle (DORV) and a complete atrioventricular canal defect, his heart lay backwards in his chest. DORV is a complex congenital defect in which the blood pumped from the heart to the body lacks adequate oxygen. Complete atrioventricular canal defect is a combination of issues related to holes in the heart and/or ineffective heart valves.
“There were a lot of things wrong with his heart,” says Jason. “We knew early on that he’d need complex surgery to survive.”
Early in 2015, Violet, an Oregon toddler with an impish grin and halo of dark curls, inched her way into hearts all over the world. Violet was born with a Tessier cleft — an extremely rare and serious craniofacial anomaly. It’s a highly complex condition requiring specialty care.
Her parents found what their daughter needed at Boston Children’s Hospital. They traveled from Oregon to Boston, where a multidisciplinary team led by Dr. John Meara, Plastic Surgeon-in-Chief, and Dr. Mark Proctor, vice-chair of neurosurgery, undertook a life-changing transformation.
The nine-hour surgery that changed Violet’s face and life took place just over one year ago.
Thriving caught up with her family to find out what Violet, now two-and-a-half, is up to today.