Kaiba Gionfriddo was just a few weeks old the first time he stopped breathing. Soon, it was happening nearly every day.
"I think we were more scared than anything. We weren't sure if he was going to make it alive or if there was going to be any way to fix it," mom April Gionfriddo said.
Kaiba had tracheobronchomalacia, a collapse of the windpipe. His case was so severe, Dr. Glenn Green at the University of Michigan decided to do something that had never been done before. His team designed a tiny plastic splint to insert around Kaiba's bronchus to expand the airway.
"When Dr. Green showed us the model I was kind of thrilled," dad Bryan Gionfriddo said. "I was like do it, got to try something."
Kaiba was just 3 months old when he went into surgery.
"Immediately after we put the implant in he started to have normal motion of his lungs on both sides. This was the
first time he was ever able to do that," Green said.
The splint works as a scaffold, training the bronchus to grow correctly. In about three years, it will dissolve on its own.
Kaiba is now 19 months old, and still faces other health issues. But in the year since his surgery, he's been breathing without trouble. Doctors say the groundbreaking procedure will touch other lives in the future.
"We have a new treatment option so children on ventilators do not need to be on ventilators anymore," Green said.
One doctor calls Kaiba's case the highlight of his career. The baby's parents call it a miracle.
Doctors had to get emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to do this procedure on Kaiba.
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