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Google Cardboard helps doctor save baby's life

Having fun is important, but that is not the only thing VR is good at. Today we are learning that this newly adopted technology can even save lives... and it already has.

Published onDecember 30, 2015

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Virtual Reality is spreading all over the world. Content is growing, more and more headsets are coming into the picture (hell, you can even get them from cereal boxes now!) and there is even a theme park in the works. But what about the VR applications that actually make a difference? Having fun is important, but that is not the only thing VR is good at. Today we are learning that this newly adopted technology can even save lives… and it already has.

A group of doctors from Miami, Florida found themselves in a tight spot after realizing 4-month old Teegan Lexcen had a misplaced heart (it was too far to the left of the baby’s body). Surgery was the only option, but her age and heart location made it hard for other surgeons to visualize the procedure and move forward safely.


Most doctors would agree that this was “inoperable”, but the Florida-based team didn’t give up so easily. Dr. Burke was handed a little piece of cardboard that changed everything, and saved this baby, who was said to have otherwise passed away by Christmas.

“Dr. Juan-Carlos Muniz who runs our MRI program came to me two weeks before surgery and handed me a piece of cardboard with a smartphone in it. I looked inside and just by tilting my head I could see the patient’s heart. I could turn it. I could manipulate it. I could see it as if I were standing in the operating room.” -Dr. Burke

Being able to manipulate this CT scan also allowed Burke to see if making an incision through the sternum would be enough, or if he would need to go directly above where the heart is located. The former ended up being the case.

OK, so VR didn’t exactly save the baby’s life, but it helped the doctor plan things better for a successful surgery. Things would have been more complicated otherwise. In this case, Google Cardboard was simply a tool. An easy-to-get, inexpensive one with a lot of potential. And since it is powered by a smartphone, pretty much everyone already has this medical tool in their pockets.

These doctors have now become true believers of the VR movement, and have committed to get the word out about them.

“In every industry there are innovators, and early adopters. We want to reach out to developers and connect the people with the ideas to the people who perform the operations and the manufacturers who make the equipment.” -Dr. Burke

So there you have it, guys. Google Cardboard and other VR headsets are not only good for epic battles, awesome flying simulators, interactive content and 3D videos. They can also change the world and open doors to new opportunities. We will now get back to our gaming, but at least we know the same devices we are wasting time with are doing something more important elsewhere.

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