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April 29, 2015 3:20 PM EDT

Three small children with weak airways that were constantly collapsing are alive and well thanks to a “4-D” printed splint that saved them from almost certain suffocation.

Three years after the splints were custom made and attached to their tracheas, the children are able to breathe on their own, a team of doctors reported on Wednesday. The splints are not only precisely fitted to the children, but they’re made to grow as the children grow. (That’s the fourth dimension, the researchers say.)

Now they want to try their method in kids who are not so close to death, to see…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

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