C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital Helps Kids ‘Bash Up’ Cancer

With the help of a 3D printer, the hospital is able to print out an exact replica of a child's tumor – so he or she can smash it.

“Boris” is a life-threatening tumor who once lived in the throat of Casey Doyle, an 11-year-old from Grass Lake, Michigan. A year ago, after four months of fighting and surgery, Casey joked that he’d love to smash the golf ball-sized bugger.

“Boris was just causing me a lot of pain and I hated him,” says Casey, who gave his nemesis the sinister name. “I just want to kill him.” A nurse at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor overheard him – and knew doctors they could make it happen.

“With the assistance of imaging software, we can replicate a tumor, and then we can use a 3D printer to print an exact replica,” says David Zopf, the doc who diagnosed Casey. “We printed one out, filled it with different materials for splattering, and he was able to smash it, twice. I think it had a cathartic feeling for him.”

The hospital now offers this one-of-a-kind therapy for about $10 to any cancer patient that can lift the mallet. It works best for those with a discernable tumor, but leukemia patients and those with lymphoma can try it, too.

“It felt amazing, and it’s just such a relief,” Casey says. The cancerous tumor was removed, says his dad, Mark, and Casey now takes a daily chemo maintenance pill. “We have a few years of scans to get through and hope and pray that Boris does not return,” Mark says.

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And he won’t – if he knows what’s good for him.

“It really made us feel like we took control of the cancer,” says Marcia, Casey’s mom. “It wasn’t controlling us anymore.”

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