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3D-printed ultrasound allows blind mother to 'see' her unborn baby

Posted by: Beth Conroy 12 Oct 15  | Healthcare
Brazilian doctors use 3D-printed ultrasound to give blind mother-to-be the gift of 'seeing' her unborn son 

Every expectant parent looks forward to the first ultrasound: it is the first time they see the tiny bundle of joy which will command the majority of their love, attention and time for the next eighteen (at least!) years of their lives.

For 30-year old Brazilian mother-to-be Tatiana Guerra, however, who lost her sight at the age of 17, the first ultrasound would, under normal circumstances, have been little more than a reassurance from the technician that the baby was healthy, and perhaps a vague description of the baby’s face.

Earlier this year, doctors in Brazil used 3D-printing technology to surprise a blind mother-to-be with a magical experience at her twenty-week scan – one that she would otherwise have been sadly denied: the first sight of her beloved child’s tiny features, before she could possibly touch her fingertips to his face.

“If you could touch him, would that let you know what he’s like?” the doctor asks Tatiana. When she nods, he hands her a cloth-wrapped 3D-printed rendering of the ultrasound. Tatiana’s face is utterly bemused for a moment, while she unwraps the image, before the joy of realisation suffuses her face and she traces her fingers lovingly over the planes of her baby’s face, tears forming in her eyes.

This magical experience, part of an advertising campaign by nappy brand ‘Huggies’ and titled ‘Meeting Murilo’, was one of a number of similar videos recorded as part of their #CountingTheDays campaign, all of which ended with a key message: ‘every mum deserves to embrace each moment’.

3D printing is advancing in leaps and bounds, and every day, it seems, we are presented with yet another possibility for its application: the medical sector, in particular, is making incredible progress with the use of 3D-printed materials, prosthetics and even 3D-printed cells. 

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