Receiving a 3-D bas-relief model of her baby’s face in the mail was “really emotional” for Taylor Ellis, 26, a blind woman in Cockeysville, Md. “I was a little bit nervous about opening the box,” Ellis said. “I had never seen a 3-D [image], and now, it’s your baby, and it’s, like, wow.”
The idea evolved from a procedure developed several years ago at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for fetuses with spina bifida. Jena Miller, an obstetrician and surgeon with the Johns Hopkins Center for Fetal Therapy, realized that a 3-D print would allow her to get a clear image of the spines of babies who needed surgery in utero for spina bifida.
Ellis and her husband, Jeremy Ellis, who is also visually impaired, have two daughters, ages 5 and 3. When they were born, Taylor Ellis said she had some vision. But since then, her glaucoma has gotten worse, so the chance to know baby No. 3 this way was a new world.
“It feels super-real when you can feel it,” she says. It was almost like she was pregnant for the first time because she had so much more detail.