A $20 Piece Of Cardboard Saved This Baby's Life

Photo: Courtesy Of Google.
The birth of twins should be a joyful occasion. But parents Cassidy and Chad Lexcen received some sobering news within 24 hours of their daughters' arrival: One of the girls was born with a series of congenital heart defects and one lung, which doctors in Minnesota deemed inoperable. Teegan, the twin with the defects, was initially sent home with her healthy sibling, where she surprised doctors and her parents by holding on for months.

"We lived thinking that any time she went to sleep, she might not wake up again, and we did everything we could to make sure she never cried, because we were afraid the strain might be too much for her struggling heart,” Cassidy remembers.

Meanwhile, her family sought out pediatric heart centers that may be willing to perform life-saving surgery on Teegan. The biggest problem? The traditional imaging available at most hospitals was too grainy to see the details needed to perform surgery on a tiny infant’s heart. Luckily, the family contacted The Heart Program at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami, which came up with a solution that was both surprisingly affordable and elegant.

Using a $20 piece of technology developed by Google called Google Cardboard, doctors were able to view 3-D images of Teegan’s heart uploaded to a smartphone. Armed with this information, Dr. Redmond Burke performed an intense, seven-hour surgery rebuilding parts of Teegan’s heart with donated tissue. After a difficult first night, she was able to spend Christmas with her family in Miami and will be able to head back to Minnesota in the coming weeks.

Teegan still has two more operations ahead of her, but her family remains hopeful for a full recovery. As her mother told CBS Miami, “Being innovative seems to be the goal of this hospital and these doctors. And innovation is what saved our daughter’s life.”
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