It's fantastic enough that a British engineer designed his own heart textile implant in 2004 when he realised it was better than an aortic valve replacement. But even cooler is that since then, 23 other people have had them implanted.
Using a rapid prototyper to hone in on his design, Tal Golesworthy's custom implant was created to help. Diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, which causes the aorta to expand and rupture, and told he would need a mecanical valve installed - a risky procedure which involves removing part of the aorta - Golesworthy decided to devise his own solution. Armed with an MRI, CAD and rapid prototyping technologies, Golesworthy created a perfect 3D model of his Aorta (see photo). Then when the finished version came back from a lab, he worked with doctors to develop a polymer mesh compression sleeve that would fit over his aorta and prevent it from rupturing. Not only was the procedure itself safer, but it also reduced blod clot complications later on.
The entire process took two years from conception to finished product, and in addition to the 23 who have already had the procedure, seven more are due up. Golesworthy said this will eventually become a standard procedure. [The Engineer via Medgadget via Boing Boing]