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

Update: Possible drowning at Pigeon Lake involved man and woman from Edmonton

Bodies recovered from Pigeon Lake’s northeastern shores.

134 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday

First day over 100 cases since July 31

Lacombe resident creates labyrinth near Breton

Marsha Duggan encourages others to use their imagination

1 in 7 Albertans have been tested for COVID-19

56 additional cases Thursday, 1,107 active cases remain in the province

#EndBikeTheft campaign comes to Lacombe

CACPC and 529 Garage partner to register bikes in central Alberta

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Collapse of Nunavut ice shelf ‘like losing a good friend:’ glaciologist

The ice shelf on the northwestern edge of Ellesmere Island has shrunk 43 per cent

13-year-old charged in death of boy, 10 in Maskwacis

The RCMP Major Crimes Unit have laid a manslaughter charge against a 13-year-old boy from Maskwacis.

‘Caught up in the frenzy:’ Oilers 50/50 draw breaking ticket sale records

Previous record was held by Toronto Raptors fans when a 50/50 raffle reached $2 million

Alberta jury trials to resume next month at offsite locations due to COVID-19

About 12 locations across Alberta may host the trials in halls, hotels and community centres

Alberta school curriculum to focus on basics, keep out political bias: minister

NDP education critic says the kindergarten to Grade 4 changes should have been implemented a year ago

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Walmart to make face masks mandatory for customers across Canada

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Most Read