Blind Couple Are Able To 'See' Their Unborn Baby Through The Magic Of 3D Printing

Diply 5 Apr 2017

Pregnancy is both exciting and scary for any expecting parents, but with medical advancements and good doctors, most couples are able to follow their child's development closely via ultrasound technology.

But what about those parents who have visual impairments? Besides the difficulty presented to doctors who must master the art of clearly describing what can't be seen, there is also the struggle to connect with a baby that you can't yet touch. If you can't see the ultrasound, how can it help?

It's tough for couples where both parents are visually impaired, which is the case for Ana Paula Silveira and Alvaro Zermiani. 

GE Healthcare | GE Healthcare

The couple assumed that they would have to wait until after the birth of their child to learn what their baby looked like, but through a new breakthrough in 3D printing, they were able to get the same experience as sighted parents.

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They were able to meet their son, Davi Lucas, through the idea of Brazilian OB/GYN, Dr. Heron Werner. 

GE Healthcare | GE Healthcare

After reading about a project that used ultrasound to image and print fossils and mummies at the National Museum of Brazil, he wondered if the same tech could be used to print models of fetuses. He now uses the process to help blind parents 'see' their babies for the first time.

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"A while ago, there was a TV interview with Dr. Heron about his work," Ana said, "I wasn't pregnant yet at the time, but my husband and I kept the idea in mind for when it happened!"

GE Healthcare | GE Healthcare

"One year later when we found out we were pregnant, we managed to get in touch with Dr. Werner who agreed to follow me through my pregnancy stages," she continued. Besides the wonderful gift this provides for visually impaired parents, the process can also be used to help parents better understand possible defects like a cleft lip.

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Both parents are in awe of how the technology helped them. "For people like us, who are visually impaired, this was a real gift," Alvaro explained.

GE Healthcare | GE Healthcare

"Holding the plaster cast of Davi's face, feeling his features and how similar he was to Ana and me… I'll keep that experience for life." Ana felt much the same, saying, "It was so thrilling. We already had an idea of how our baby would look like, whose nose he would have, whose ears he would have, and so on. Almost being able to hold him for the first time at twelve weeks was indescribable. Davi's mouth, his nose, his ears, all felt so real."

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