(Mirror Daily, United States) – It may not be the epitome of virtual reality, but Google Cardboard aided doctors in saving a life that would’ve otherwise likely been lost without the technology. It has been said that the tech will fall into the background once powerhouses like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive come to the market. But it may not yet become irrelevant.
Teegan Lexcenher, a 4 month-old patient, was born with an incredibly rare condition of missing one lung and half her heart. Essentially, she lacked one whole ventricle, and the one left was doing the job for two, which could not last for long. Doctors in Minnesota analyzed her condition and stated that there was nothing to be done. She was taken back home with her family, a nurse, and medication to make her passing as comfortable as possible.
Three months later, the child did not perish as estimated, so the parents looked for a second opinion. Eventually, they ended up contacting Dr. Redmond Burke from the Niklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, rated 3rd on the top 20 of most innovative pediatric surgeons. Dr. Burke took on the case and asked one of his colleagues, Dr. Juan Carlos Muniz, who specializes in imaging, to make a 3D image of the little girl’s heart.
With the 3D printer broken, Muniz resorted to the $20 gadget, Google Cardboard. The clock was ticking, and time became of the essence to perform the extremely difficult surgery. Using CT scans and MRI scans of Teegan’s heart downloaded on his phone, he managed to insert them into an app called Sketchfab. It was able to create an accurate 3D representation of Teegan’s heart that would eventually be key to her survival.
Dr. Burke strapped on the toy gadget for the first time in his life, and was able to view the images in virtual reality. That meant that every single angle was available and he was well aware of what was waiting for him when he opened up her chest. Every minute spent in surgery is vital. With prolonged sessions, the patient could suffer brain damage or heart damage, which Teegan could ill afford.
According to Dr. Burke, her condition was so rare that he had not seen it in 30 years of being a surgeon. However, with the help of Google Cardboard and its precision, he was able to know what he would be facing in the operating room. The doctors stated that the image was flawlessly accurate, and he wasted no minute once Teegan laid on the table. He was able to avoid drastic techniques that would’ve been potentially deadly.
Dr. Burke proceeded through the operation with no surprises, which, according to him “it’s what makes the difference between life and death”. He was able to invent a new surgery, rerouting her single ventricle to perform the job of two long-term.
That was 29 days ago, and little Teegan is recovering well and getting stronger. Dr. Burke is still in awe of the Cardboard breakthrough. According to the surgeon, it’s “extremely simple”, and the most elegant thing he’d seen in years.
Image source: tagstand.com
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