The $20 disposable virtual reality headset Google Cardboard gave dying baby a second chance, allowing surgeons to reconstruct her heart and lung after she was born with a set of defects.
Teegan Lexcenher was born with only one lung and half of heart. Without surgery her fate was sealed. Cardiac surgeons in her home state Minnesota had said that surgery was too risky and declined to operate.
Fortunately, the baby’s aunt knew Dr. Redmond Burke from the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. When the doctor took a look at the case he was shocked by the birth defects. He said that the malformations were unimaginable. He added that he hadn’t seen anything like it in his entire career.
But the baby’s will to live moved Dr. Burke. He knew from the moment he saw her that she was a survivor, despite her lethal defects. The doctor explained that the outcome of a complicated surgery depends on the imagery and perspective doctors can get of the condition before using a scalpel.
Burke and his colleagues made a 3-D model of the newborn’s damaged organ based on CTI and MRI scans. But since the hospital’s 3-D printer was out of service, they had to come up with a plan B.
Dr. Juan Carlos Muniz had the idea to put the imagery on his smartphone via a free app dubbed Sketchfab. Next the team gained a 3D perspective of the situation by using a set of Google Cardboard goggles.
The details of the 3D images provided by the virtual reality gizmo helped surgeons learn where the baby’s heart was most damaged and what to do next. Dr. Burke acknowledged that he had never used Google Cardboard. He, nevertheless, was impressed with the ‘whole new perspective’ of the newborn’s heart defects.
He added that the technique provided him and colleagues with flexibility and autonomy during surgery. Moreover, the foldable headset can be used virtually anywhere and by anybody. You do not need to have a physics or engineering degree to be able to use it at full capacity. Plus, the headset is relatively cheap, while the app is free.
Google Cardboard allowed cardiac surgeons to gain a new perspective and perform a successful 7-hour-long surgery on the 4-month-old. The baby had her aorta rebuilt and connected to an artery to her sole lung.
A month later, Teegan is recovering and becoming stronger each passing day. Doctors plan to discharge her in February.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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