3D-printed implant saves baby’s life

Six week-old Kaiba Gionfriddo was out at a restaurant with his family, when he stopped breathing and started turning blue. It turned out that he had a severe form of tracheobronchomalacia, a rare condition in which the trachea collapses due to flaccid supporting cartilage. Although he survived that incident, he proceeded to stop breathing on a regular basis, requiring daily resuscitation. Given the seriousness of the situation, his doctors decided to go for broke and try something new – an implanted 3D-printed tracheal support splint.

The device was already under development by University of Michigan associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology Dr. Glenn Green, and professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering Dr. Scott Hollister. It had never been tried in a human before, so they had to obtain emergency clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration in order to use it on Kaiba.

To make the implant, they first obtained a CT scan of Kaiba’s trachea/broncus, then created a computer model of the splint based on that. They then used a laser-based 3D printer to convert that digital model into a physical object, made from a biopolymer known as polycaprolactone.

In a surgical procedure on February 9th of last year, the ridged tube-shaped splint was sewn around Kaiba’s airway. This opened up his bronchus immediately, plus it also now serves as a skeleton to guide the proper growth of more rigid cartilage as he matures. Most babies with tracheobronchomalacia grow out of the condition as their trachea develops over two to three years, which is about the same amount of time that it should take the biocompatible polymer to be dissolved into his body.

Twenty-one days after the procedure was complete, Kaiba was taken off of ventilator support. He hasn’t had any breathing problems since, and is now 20 months old.

Bravo! There’s hardly a geek project in recent years which has taken off into every possible direction as have 3D printers. This being one of the best.

Tesla pays back $465 million DOE loan 9 years ahead of schedule

We’re willing to bet there are bottles of champagne popping all the way from Washington, DC to Palo Alto, CA…with the announcement that Tesla Motors has, as suspected, paid off the entirety of its $465-million Department of Energy loan.

As far back as July 2012, Tesla began talking about paying the US government back early, but it was apparently the tremendous rise in the company’s stock value recently that prompted CEO Elon Musk to push for the immediate repayment this week. From a price of $33.87 on January 1, TSLA has climbed to $87.24…Last week, Tesla sold enough stock to raise over a billion dollars to repay the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan, with interest. This makes Tesla the first automaker to pay the DOE back, and it did so nine years ahead of schedule…

In a prepared statement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk thanked the DOE and Congress and “particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate. I hope we did you proud.”

The DOE is certainly proud, issuing a release that said the repayment “shows the strength of energy department’s overall loan portfolio.” The DOE has come under fire recently for the loan it gave to Fisker Automotive. Two other ATVM recipients, Nissan and Ford, have not yet paid all theit money back, but there are no apparent worries there, either.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement that, “not every investment will succeed” but that the DOE’s overall $34-Billion loan portfolio of more than 30 loans “is delivering big results for the American economy while costing far less than anticipated…”

The reality is that the DOE investment and loan portfolio performs better than most banks making small business loans. Not that it gets through the lead-based scum encasing the brains of Congressional conservatives and the Tea Party economics school dropouts. Only 2% bad loans is the kind of thing that encourages smiles among the regulatory curmudgeons in our banking industry. Still meaningless to horse-and-buggy populists who haven’t made it beyond lead-based gasoline.

Elon Musk deserves credit for all of his endeavors. He’s doing the health of our nation and the world a favor by setting standards high enough to benefit us all with his electric cars.

City Council members abstain from vote — on abstaining. WTF?


Pete Murdock was not amused

Three members of a Michigan city council have abstained from voting on a measure that would have prevented them from abstaining on future votes.

AnnArbor.com reports…that Ypsilanti City Council member Pete Murdock proposed a resolution Tuesday that would have required council members to only vote “yes” or “no” on each issue unless they had a financial or professional conflict.

Mayor Paul Schreiber and council members Susan Moeller and Brian Robb abstained from the vote to show their disapproval of the resolution.

The resolution failed, with Murdock and another City Council member voting “yes” while two other council members voted “no.”

Best political news I read all day. 🙂

Nutball faith healers charged with murder after second child death

A Philadelphia couple who believe in faith healing over medicine and who were on probation in their son’s pneumonia death were charged with murder Wednesday after a second young child died under what a prosecutor called ‘‘eerily similar’’ circumstances.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible ignored a court order to seek medical care if their children needed it, prosecutors said Wednesday. The requirement was a condition of the probation sentence they received after the death of their toddler son four years ago.

First Assistant District Attorney Ed McCann says the Schaibles are entitled to their religious beliefs — until it endangers their children.

“How many kids have to die before it becomes extreme indifference to human life?” McCann said in announcing the charges. “They killed one kid already.”

The Schaibles are members and former teachers at the fundamentalist First Century Gospel Church in northeast Philadelphia. The church’s website quotes Bible verses purportedly forbidding Christians from visiting doctors or taking medicine and suggests it’s a sin to trust in medicine over faith…

A jury had convicted them of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment after the 2009 death of 2-year-old Kent, who had been sick for about two weeks. Brandon Schaible died of pneumonia in April after suffering from diarrhea and breathing problems for at least a week, and refusing to eat.

The circumstances are eerily similar,” said Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore, who handled the first trial and pushed for prison time because she feared the couple would not follow the court’s order on medical care…

“I am sorry for your loss. Deeply sorry,” Common Pleas Judge Benjamin Lerner told the couple. “But in all honesty, I am more sorry for the fact that this innocent little child will not be able to grow up to be what he wanted to be.”

A common dicho I hear all the time is that “some parent don’t deserve children”. Well, this is one of those cases where “the children couldn’t possibly deserve their parents”. Or they’d be alive.