Brandie Thomas, her eight-year-old son, Mason, and Dr. Charles Larson look over a 3-D model of his heart built into a Tie Fighter from Star Wars in an effort to better explain to Mason why he needed a heart transplant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The Force is in him: Alberta boy gets ‘Star Wars’ model of his heart

Doctor used 3D models of the boy’s heart to help explain why he had to get a transplant

The Force is with this young transplant patient.

Mason Thomas was six when he received a new heart at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. He asked to see his damaged one but it was discarded after the surgery.

To help the now eight-year-old understand why he needed a new ticker, experts printed two 3D models of the organ from his CT scans.

One model of the red muscle and its pumps was put inside a tiny TIE Fighter for the young “Star Wars” fan. The fictional space-flying vehicle is used by the Galactic Empire to fight the rebel force in the popular movie franchise.

“It’s amazing,” Mason said when he was given the models Wednesday.

“They show why my old heart couldn’t work and why I needed a new one.”

Mason was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, a rare congenital defect. His heart failed after a second surgery and he was on a transplant wait list for more than three years.

Dr. Charles Larson with the hospital’s pediatric cardiac intensive care unit came up with the idea for the 3D models.

“This is an anatomically accurate representation of Mason’s heart, with colours to help him understand how the blood and oxygen were flowing, and which parts of his heart were too small and failing,” he said in a statement.

Larson worked with industrial design students through the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. Staff and students at an engineering faculty workshop then did the 3D printing.

The team has made 10 heart models so far and plans to make 10 more to be shared with other patients and families as well as with medical students, Larson said.

Mason’s mother, Brandie Thomas, said he is a logical kid who likes to know how things work.

“The question of why this happened to him bugs him the most, and seeing the heart helps give him some of the answers of what was wrong with him and why he was so sick.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

DOWN TO EARTH: Adjusting to our new normal

Water wise instructor says school shutdown prompts finding ways to reach out to community

WLIB breaks ground on $8 million-plus administration building construction project

Safety precautions will be in place to protect workes on site against COVID-19

COVID-19: Williams Lake 83rd annual Bull Show and Sale goes online only

The event is one ranchers look forward to every year

Sand and unfilled bags available for rural residents to prepare for spring melt

Cariboo Regional District has placed materials at Wildwood and Miocene Volunteer Fire Departments

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

B.C. begins taking submissions for $2M COVID-19 research fund

Rural health, impact of shifting hospital resources among priorities

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

Easter Bunny not a COVID-19 carrier, allowed to do drop offs

World Health Organization grants permission to Bunny as he cannot transfer the virus

Most Read