Abu Dhabi medics save boy using 3D-printed heart model

Adam Sadlah, 2, underwent the rare procedure to correct a series of major faults that affected his little heart

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Surgeons in Abu Dhabi saved the life of a boy suffering from complex congenital heart abnormalities using a 3D model of his failing organ.

The paediatric cardiac team at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City created a 3D printed model to plan a lengthy and intricate surgery on two-year-old Adam Sadlah to correct multiple major malformations.

These included abnormal inflows to the heart, the absence of a barrier between the ventricles and the atria, as well as abnormal valves and great arteries originating from the wrong chambers.

“We were able to successfully locally perform corrective heart surgery, which otherwise would have to be performed overseas – keeping newborns and infants, like Adam, close to home,” said Dr Mariam Al Mazrouei, chief executive of the hospital.

The successful operation was the first of its kind to be carried out in the UAE and one of only a handful of similar surgeries to be performed worldwide.

“Printing a tangible model of Adam’s heart before the surgery was a key factor in the success of the 11-hour procedure and guaranteed his safety throughout,” said Dr Laszlo Kiraly, division chief and consultant cardiac surgeon at SKMC.

After the surgery, Adam’s heart was connected to a device that pumps and oxygenates a patient's blood outside the body for around 200 hours to give his heart and lungs a chance to rest.

Adam, who is now two years old, remained in hospital for three months before being reunited with his family in June.

The family, who live in Sharjah, said they were relieved the surgery went so well.

“I am grateful to the team who were involved in my son’s treatment, not only for saving his life, but also for their compassion and continuous outreach to check on Adam’s health and recovery,” said his father Mohamed.