But while cases like Kaiba's are a medical boon, both Terzic and the UM researchers stress that this and other regenerative procedures must be replicated in a wider patient population.
"This gives us the opportunity to really do patient-specific and individualized medicine," Hollister said. "So we don't have to do one-size-fits-all. But there is still a lot of work to be done."
While that work is being done, Kaiba's family remains grateful that, 15 months post-surgery and at age 18 months, he is still able to breathe on his own.
"I'm just so happy he's still here, that he was able to make it through," April Gionfriddo said. "Hopefully (soon) he'll be able to run around and be an even happier child."
The splint will take three years to degrade, and in the meantime, Kaiba's lung should continue to develop normally, said Green.
Green and Hollister hope to begin clinical trials in a larger patient population this year or next.