Sunday, September 23, 2018
Health

Doctors use virtual reality technology to save baby's life

MIAMI — A 4-month-old infant with a condition that doctors had deemed inoperable was made ready for her first Christmas with her family after a seven-hour open-heart surgery in Miami that was helped by a cardboard box.

Doctors at Nicklaus Children's Hospital used an iPhone tucked inside a Google Cardboard virtual reality imaging device to plan a complex pediatric procedure on Teegan Lexcen on Dec. 10 by converting a two-dimensional CT scan into a three-dimensional model of a tiny heart, multiple news media outlets reported.

Teegan, one of the twins born Aug. 20 to Cassidy and Chad Lexcen of Minnesota, was born with only one lung and a critically deformed heart that had been displaced into her left chest cavity.

Doctors in Minnesota deemed the newborn inoperable — "a word we hate here," said Dr. Redmond Burke, Nicklaus' director of cardiovascular surgery.

The twins' parents said they were told to prepare to let Teegan go, but determined to save their daughter's life, they scoured the Internet to find a team who could attempt surgery.

The family found doctors in Miami willing to try something new.

The pediatric surgeons took scans of Teegan's heart and lung and uploaded the images to a smartphone. They were then able to look at 3D images of her tiny heart and lung using Google Cardboard.

With the clear images in hand, the surgeons performed a seven-hour, lifesaving operation.

"You don't imagine having to spend your first Christmas away from home like we are doing in a hospital setting," said Cassidy Lexcen, a mother of four. "But for our first Christmas with the twins, what better gift could we have other than having the gift of life for our baby girl again?"

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