Google’s Virtual Reality Tool Helps Surgeons Find a Solution to Save Baby in Critical Condition

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The advancement of today’s technology has proved once again to be useful as a little girl’s life was saved partially due to virtual reality.

Teegan Lexcan, who has a twin sister named Riley, was born in critical condition: a defected heart and one lung.

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Riley was born perfectly normal, but Teegan wasn’t expected to live for long. Her parents, Chad and Cassidy, weren’t ones to give up. They contacted Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, and Dr. Redmond Burke took charge of the case.

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The operation proved to be as tricky as ever since Teegan was so tiny and fragile to be operated on. The operation needed a clearer view of the shape her heart had at that time, something that 2D MRI couldn’t provide.

“In 30 years, I’ve never seen a child who is 3 months old and had her heart in her left chest and had no left lung and one lung in her right chest,” Dr. Burke recalled. “That just doesn’t happen. There’s no textbook you can open and say, let’s do this.”

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That was when Dr. Juan Carlos Muniz and Dr. John Rhodes of the same hospital stepped in, they suggested to convert the 2-D images through Google Cardboard.  The virtual reality device converts a smartphone to a stereoscopic virtual reality viewer, so the doctors utilized the said tool to convert the 2-D CT scans into 3-D models of Teegan’s heart.

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On December 8, the operation proved to be successful with the help of the virtual reality device. But the little girl’s ordeal was far from over, she will need to continuously head to the hospital and slowly learn to regain her strength.

The family continues to stay in Miami where they can monitor the condition of their daughter with the help of the doctors.

“The fact that they weren’t willing to give up, that speaks volumes,” Cassidy Lexcen said to the Today Show. “These people are just so dedicated to the lives of children.”

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The family are grateful for the help that was given to them in the end. They also give credit the innovative use of Google Cardboard in saving Teegan’s life.

“When you think of complex heart surgeries, everyone thinks of this extremely expensive equipment, and yes, there are those things, but to see that something so simple allowed him the vision to perform this surgery, it’s amazing!” Cassidy added.

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Dr. Muniz has been studying three-dimensional technology. He is also appointed as director of cardiac MRI in the hospital.

“I went to Dr. Muniz and asked him what imaging technology we could use, and we came up with a repair that had never been done before,” Burke, who performed the surgery, told the Miami Herald. “There are certainly more expensive technologies you could use to look at virtual imaging, but I thought this was really elegant because it’s essentially a cardboard box.”

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Using the Google Cardboard, the doctors were able to see a 3-D image of Teegan’s heart and came up with a way to properly address it.

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