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VIDEO: Doctors at the University of Michigan create an artificial windpipe for baby boy

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ANN ARBOR (WKZO) -- A baby boy has received a life-saving implant to take him off the respirator that was helping him breathe and keeping him alive.

 Researchers at the University of Michigan used a 3-D printer to create a custom-made tiny, flexible splint, to prop open his throat,  that will grow with the baby.

The splint is flexible enough to move when he breathes, but firm enough to prevent his air tube from flopping shut.

The baby suffered from a rare disorder in which one of the airways in his lungs collapsed when he exhaled. The research is published in "The New England Journal of Medicine."

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