The boy experienced shortness of breath after birth and was diagnosed with a severe congenital heart defect (CHD).
"The defect was very rare and complicated," said Zhang Xueqin, the baby's surgeon and director of the pediatric cardiac surgery center at the People's Hospital of Jilin.
Because the boy is so young and small, it was difficult to develop the best surgery plan using just an ultrasound examination, so Dr. Zhang and his team turned to 3D printing using a full-sized heart replica as a model of the boy’s heart structure.
"With the model, we were able to know precisely where and how we should cut, and how big the incision should be," said Zhang. "And with such a thorough plan, we spent only half the time we had expected to complete the surgery."
The infant has already been transferred to a general ward and is recovering.