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Expecting mother with visual impairment able to ‘see’ baby with 3D printed ultrasound

By Sean MacKinnon

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    OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — When expecting mother Ashton Johnson got an ultrasound at CHI Bergan Mercy Clinic in Omaha, she didn’t know how she would see the results.

Johnson has a visual impairment. She couldn’t see the ultrasound and would ask her husband Logan to describe what their baby was doing.

“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 said.

But words could only go so far and helping Johnson visualize her baby would take something more. Her OBGYN, Dr. Katie Sekpe, found a solution.

“And so, 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,” Sekpe said.

Sekpe teamed up with another OBGYN, Dr. John Coté, to make a 3D print of Johnson’s ultrasound.

With delicate fingers tracing the print of her baby’s face, Johnson was in awe.

“This is so cool. 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,” she said.

Coté, also an assistant professor at Creighton University, says research he’s doing can put the school’s obstetrics and gynecology department on the map.

“We’re actually one of the first institutions to be able to do stuff like this,” Coté said.

He says giving an expecting mother a 3D print of her ultrasound raises oxytocin levels and increases attachment to her baby. He says it’s groundbreaking work.

“3D printing has been around for some time but when we’re applying it to more common scenarios like everyday pregnant patients and that’s when I think it becomes a game-changer,” he said.

The 3D ultrasound prints are giving Ashton new access to her child.

“I never thought I’d get to see what my baby looks like in a way-feel what he looks like,” she said. “I can’t wait to see what he looks like in person.”

And through teary eyes, Johnson expressed her gratitude.

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

She is now able to feel the face of her and Logan’s child, with a better picture of what their baby boy will look like.

“Whose nose does it have?” Sekpe asked.

And to a room full of laughter and sniffling nurses, “Mine,” Ashton Johnson said confidently.

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