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3D Printer
The hospital's 3D research lab has been renamed the Helen and Will Webster Foundation 3D Innovations Lab. File photo
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Gift of $1 million to expand 3D printing at Rady Children’s Hospital

REGION — Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego has received $1 million from the Helen and Will Webster Foundation to rapidly expand the hospital’s investment and use of medical 3D printing solutions to improve care, education and surgical outcomes for children, officials said today.

The gift will create a research and development fund intended to expand those 3D printing capabilities.

“Rich and his family continue their father’s legacy of investing in innovation that changes lives,” said Dr. Patrick Frias, president and CEO of the hospital. “This gift will help to accelerate the development of breakthrough 3D medical solutions and life-changing inventions — the impact of this investment to future generations of children can’t be overstated.”

Will Webster Jr. founded Webster Laboratories where he and his team engineered and manufactured heart catheters, among them a device that enabled doctors to diagnose and treat a congenital heart arrhythmia called Wolf-Parkinson-White Syndrome.

In 1996, his business became part of Johnson & Johnson, and today it continues to operate as Biosense Webster. He and his wife established the Helen and Will Webster Foundation to support education and health care causes. His son, Rich Webster, is co-president of the foundation.

“Rady Children’s has established itself as an institution committed to forward-looking innovations to the greatest benefit of their patients — the nearly 250,000 children it cares for each year,” Rich Webster said. “The trailblazing, interdisciplinary work taking place in its 3D lab is exactly what my father dedicated his life to inspiring. My family and I are pleased to continue this tradition in his and my mother’s names.”

The Webster Foundation previously invested $100,000 at Rady to support the 3D heart modeling program and Dickinson Family Image-Guided Intervention Center. According to a hospital statement, nearly one in every 100 babies born has a congenital heart defect and approximately 25% of those babies require surgery or other procedures before their first birthdays.

The hospital’s 3D research lab has been renamed the Helen and Will Webster Foundation 3D Innovations Lab.

Most recently, the lab’s biomedical engineers developed 3D-printed nasal swabs to enable expanded COVID-19 testing, reusable face shields for medical professionals that can be disinfected and splitters for ventilators to maximize usage capacity for patients.

“The investment from the Webster family will change, dramatically, how we plan surgical interventions for some of the sickest children in our care,” said lab director Justin Ryan. “As a medical community, we are rapidly expanding the use of 3D and emerging additive manufacturing technologies such as virtual reality, mixed reality and augmented reality to improve how we care for patients. Our lab serves the community by leveraging these incredible technological developments to do something so fundamental, yet revolutionary — enable a doctor or surgeon to see and interact with anatomy prior to ever stepping foot in an operating room. It’s an exciting frontier in pediatric care that is limited only by our imaginations,” Ryan said.