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Mom with visual impairment ‘sees’ baby with 3D-printed ultrasound

Mom with visual impairment ‘sees baby with 3D printed ultrasound


An expectant Nebraska mother with a visual impairment was able to “see” her unborn baby thanks to an innovative 3D-printed ultrasound. 

At previous doctor’s appointments, Ashton Johnson relied on her husband, Logan, to describe their infant son’s features to her.

“They’re like ‘ope, his hands are in front of his face again.’ I was like, what’s he doing now. And Logan’s like ‘ope, he’s going to sleep,’” she told KETV this week.

Johnson’s doctor, Dr. Katie Sekpe of CHI Bergen Mercy Clinic in Omaha, explained they then came up with the idea to work up a three-dimensional version of the ultrasound image.

“The thought came like it would be really nice to get her something tangible to hold on to, to feel the contours of the baby’s face and to really get an understanding of what baby looks like,” she said.

Johnson, who is visually impaired, previously relied on her husband to describe the ultrasounds to her.
KETV

Dr. Sekpe recruited the help of another OB-GYN, Dr. John Coté, to make the tactile experience a reality.

Footage captured by KETV shows Johnson tracing her fingers over the molds, marveling at the baby’s features.

“This is so cool,” she exclaimed. “Like I have not been able to feel his, like see his ultrasounds like at all so like this is so cool. I can see his little lips and his little nose. That is so cute. And his little eyes. Oh my gosh.”

The 3D mold allowed Johnson to discern her son's growing features.
The 3D mold allowed Johnson to discern her son’s growing features.
KETV

When asked whose nose the child has, Johnson was confidently able to say that the baby took after her.

Dr. Coté, an assistant professor at Creighton University, told the outlet that his research into 3D-printed ultrasounds could be a “game-changer” for obstetrics.

“We’re actually one of the first institutions to be able to do stuff like this,” he said. “3D printing has been around for some time but when we’re applying it to more common scenarios like everyday pregnant patients.”

Dr. John Coté is leading research into 3D-printed ultrasounds.
Dr. John Coté is leading research into 3D-printed ultrasounds.
KETV

Dr. Coté explained that providing expectant mothers with 3D renderings of their babies benefits both parent and child by raising oxytocin levels and strengthening the mother’s attachment.

Johnson herself was moved to tears by the effort.

“I never thought I’d get to see what my baby looks like in a way-feel what he looks like,” she told a room of emotional nurses and staff. “I can’t wait to see what he looks like in person.

Johnson's obstetrician, Dr. Laura Sekpe, collaborated with Dr. Coté on the project.
Johnson’s obstetrician, Dr. Laura Sekpe, collaborated with Dr. Coté on the project.
KETV

“Thank you so much guys. This really means so much to me. Thank you,” she continued. “I definitely wouldn’t have this opportunity without you guys. So thank you guys.”



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