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Infant receives 3D printed splints to aid breathing

ANN ARBOR (WKZO) -- A Utah infant is breathing much easier thanks to a groundbreaking operation involving 3D printing.

Eighteen-month-old Garrett Peterson suffers from a rare pulmonary disorder that has softened the tubes in his body that allow him to breathe.  Any movement or agitation could cause the tubes to collapse, often leading him to turn blue.

Doctors at the University of Michigan pioneered a new surgery that uses a biodegradable splint created by 3D printers.  The splints are implanted in the airway in hopes that by the time they dissolve, the breathing tube will strengthen and no longer collapse.

It's only the second time such a procedure has ever been performed.