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A hospital in California is using virtual reality to help save the lives of their critically ill young patients. 

Mathias Hahn has always been the type of kid his mom would never have to worry about. Straight A’s, basketball, and cross country. But that all changed last fall. 

Hahn says, “I woke up having a really bad headache.” 

But it soon became clear to his mom that something more serious was happening.

Lindsay Hahn, Mathias’ mom, explains, “The emergency room was able to do a cat scan and they found the bleed.” 

With a hemorrhage on his brain, Mathias was taken to the hospital where he began the fight for his life.

Dr. Kurtis Auguste, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, says, “He was lying in his ICU bed, paralyzed on one side and literally unable to say a word.”       

Mathias says, “It was super scary. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to move again. Maybe.” 

When Dr. Auguste began to operate to relieve pressure, he spotted a tumor.        

He explains, “Where this was tucked underneath the edge of the bone, my visibility was limited and it was very difficult for me to reach and see.” 

But this doctor let technology guide him.  A virtual reality mapping system gave him a 360 degree view of Mathias’ brain constructed from CT and MRI images. It allowed Dr. Auguste to step inside mathias’ brain and see the tumor from a new vantage point. He then shared his plan and headset with mathias and his mom.                                                         

Lindsay Hahn says, “It was comforting to see he had this tool that allowed him to see the tumor in so many different ways and decide how he could approach it safely.”

Which is exactly what the doctor was able to do in surgery thanks to the VR technology. And as a result, Mathias is now healthy and cancer free. 

Mathias says, “I can just be a normal kid again.” 

The virtual reality model provides surgeons a continuous guide to the intricate and crowded space inside our brains. Several institutions across the country are using this technology.