Mar 29, 2017 | By Tess

One of the many things we love about 3D printing technologies is its undeniable capacity to bring happiness and joy to people in unusual ways. From bespoke, heartfelt objects, to affordable assistive devices, 3D printing has helped to improve many people’s lives, even if it’s in a small way.

One recent 3D printing story that has warmed our hearts has come from Sao Paulo, Brazil, where two expecting parents were given the chance to see their unborn baby son with the help of 3D printing technologies.

Ana Paula Silveira and her husband Alvaro Zermiani, who live in Sao Paulo, both suffer from a visual impairment and are legally recognized as blind. When Ana Paula became pregnant, they—like most expecting parents—dreamed of seeing their child for the first time through the medical wonder that is the ultrasound exam. To overcome the issue of not being able to see the ultrasound’s grainy image, they found a way to feel their unborn child, thanks in part to 3D printing.

Dr. Heron Werner, a gynaecologist and obstetrician from the DASA clinic in Rio de Janeiro was approached by the couple to help make their dreams a reality. Using a GE ultrasound machine to visualize Ana Paula’s pregnancy, he realized he could turn the images into a 3D printable model. He says: “From the moment we got to the high-quality ultrasound exam, through the possibility of 3D printing it, I realized that it could also serve to enhance the prenatal experience of visually impaired pregnant women.”

Interestingly, Dr. Werner got the idea from the Egyptian exhibition at the Rio National Museum, for which they used tomography technology to digitize ancient Egyptian artefacts. Using a similar approach, the doctor was able to leverage the Voluson E10 ultrasound machine’s built-in 3D printing capability to 3D print a lifelike model of the couple’s unborn son, Davi Lucas.

According to GE, the Voluson E10 is the first ultrasound machine in the OB/GYN field to offer built-in 3D printing, as the feature is meant for 3D printing models of certain anatomical defects, as well as surgical guides. The innovative idea to 3D print a model of a fetus is certainly not going unnoticed, however, especially by the parents.

“Holding the small fetus at 12 weeks is an indescribable feeling,” said Ana Paula. “Following up on our son’s evolution allowed us to have this feeling of being whole, because we feel with our hands. When we touched the second model, with Davi’s face, we realized his resemblance to us. Thanks to the exams and printing, we were able to not only know that our baby was growing healthy but also to have a very real contact and establish a very strong involvement with our son.”

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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