3-D printer helping save lives at Phoenix Children's Hospital

PHOENIX - One of the printers being used at Phoenix Children's Hospital is not your typical machine. It's changing lives, and saving them.

"It's going to be a big deal changer," Chief of Pediatric Cardiology Dr. Stephan Pophal said.

The printer makes 3-D models of children's hearts.

"You get a sense of the size of a child's heart and many people don't realize that it's so small," Pophal said.

Teeny tiny blood vessels and chambers on the 3-D models make it easier for doctors to diagnose, and fix, big problems.

"We just took a leap, you know, and said ok, we're going to try. If we can help 10 or 20 of them with 3-D printer, great," Pophal said.

With thousands of kids with congenital heart disease coming to PCH each year, the possibilities are endless.

"Using this technology in the way we are has a chance to save a kid's life," said assistant professor at ASU's School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering David Frakes.

The idea for the 3-D printer was a partnership between PCH and ASU's Bio Engineering School.

"If you want to plan for correcting a malformed heart then how better to do that than to hold an actual model of that in your hand," Frakes said.

Now doctors at PCH can do just that.

"I can't think of any better feeling in the world," Frakes said.

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