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

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

Castlegar cyclist suffers non-life threatening injuries after being struck by vehicle

The incident occurred on the Kinnaird Bridge at approximately 8:50 a.m. on Thursday

Mercer Celgar to temporarily lay off majority of Castlegar mill workers in July

The company said it’s possible that the workers could be laid off for more than a month

First Energy Metals set to start gold exploration work in the West Kootenay

The work will be conducted at two of its sites near Nakusp and Nelson

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary rescinds all Grand Forks-area evacuation orders

Evacuation alerts for 1,136 Boundary properties remain in effect as officials monitor forecasts

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

Nelson counsellor works online with university students in central Asia during pandemic

Robin Higgins is home from her job in Tajikistan because of COVID-19

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read