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3-D printed hearts of hope

Jason-Ayres-Patrick-and-Emani-croppedJason Ayres, a family doctor in Alabama, was speechless as he held his adopted son Patrick’s heart in his hands. Well, a replica of his son’s heart — an exact replica, 3-D printed before the 3-year-old boy had lifesaving open-heart surgery.

Patrick was one of the first beneficiaries of 3-D printing technology at Boston Children’s Hospital, which last year helped open a new frontier in pediatric cardiac surgery. Patrick was born with numerous cardiac problems; in addition to double outlet right ventricle and a complete atrioventricular canal defect, his heart lay backwards in his chest.

“We knew early on that he’d need complex surgery to survive,” says Jason. Finely detailed models of Patrick’s heart gave surgeon Sitaram Emani, MD, at the Boston Children’s Heart Center an up-close-and-personal look at his complex cardiac anatomy.

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