A congenital heart defect 3D model library

The 3D Heart Project offers interactive and educational heart models, instructional videos, and descriptions of congenital heart defects (CHD). We focus on providing learning resources for families and doctors in training. We empower learners to see what a real heart looks like, and do so at their own pace. We visualize all kinds of defects, from the most common to the rare.

For every patient, every family, real hearts.

We’re a small but mighty team that has come together to work on a big mission: to create an open and free CHD educational resource, across the world. Anyone who takes care of a child with a special heart can better their knowledge.

view our example heart

Our history

The 3D Heart Project is a joint collaboration between the Stollery Children's Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and the Academic Technologies team at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry. Founded in 2019, Dr. Charles Larson sought to answer the question, “How might we better 3D visualize congenital heart disease to teach residents and patients?” 

Our project started with an undergraduate practicum project between the PCICU program and 2 Bachelor of Industrial Design students interning with Academic Technologies. This foundation set up the groundwork for the 3D Heart Project to be able to expand and receive grant funding. 

With this grant funding, since 2019 we have been able to print more models, purchase our own 3D printing equipment, share models with patients, and teach sessions with residents for qualitative research purposes. We are ready for the 3D Heart Project to grow and benefit more learners!

Our team

We’re a group of doctors, designers, engineers, cardiac families, and super geniuses with a mission to improve congenital heart defect education.

Dr. Charles Larson

Pediatric Intensivist

I work as part of an expert team that cares for children with congenital heart disease. One of the most challenging parts of my job is to make sure that kids and their families feel like they are part of the team. What I love about this project is that it brings kids’ actual hearts to life and helps me explain to families exactly what is going on. If a family feels like they are the experts on their child’s heart, I know I have done my job.

Dr. Carolina Escudero

Pediatric Cardiologist, Associate Professor, heart rhythm specialist

Every day I get to work with patients and families affected by congenital heart disease and heart rhythm disorders. I also help teach doctors and future doctors how to care for children affected by heart disease. I am excited that this project allows doctors in training, patients, and families to learn about congenital heart disease by allowing them to see what these hearts actually look like. In my spare time I raise my 4 boys and enjoy the outdoors with my family whenever I can.

Patrick Von Hauff

Designer

I am a professional designer with 15 years of experience in my field. Much of my work has been in the area of public health and health promotion, and more recently in health science education. I have taught as a sessional and principle instructor of a course in design research and methods. My work is interesting and varied— I have worked on online courses, software, simulations, educational games, digital media & storytelling, data visualization, face-to-face activities, among other things.

Cody Wesley

Designer

I am a designer who loves making things to help others and 3D printers. The best part of the 3D Heart project is seeing firsthand how these models impact clinical decisions, conversations, emotional support and comfort. I work at the University of Alberta for the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. I am so excited to share these heart models and see how you will use them!

Trina Bloemen

Designer

I am a multidisciplinary designer who is a nerd at heart. I am excited to make designs with emotional impact, that improve and enrich people's lives. I work at the University of Alberta for the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, with her fellow designers on the 3D Heart Project. Her role on the 3D Heart Project has been in learning activity and curriculum production, and branding.

Nicole Pernal

Designer

Nicole is a member of the design team in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Alberta. Specializing in Visual Communication Design, Nicole aims to improve the experiences of learners, educators, patients, and clinicians through means of multidisciplinary design. Nicole takes a user-centred and problem-solving approach to her work to achieve longevity and meaningfulness in her designs.

Brianne Hall

Cardiac parent

I’m the mother of a child with a congenital heart defect. My son Jacob was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and spent 60% of his first year of life in the hospital. I truly understand the range of emotions that families feel when they learn about their child’s diagnosis and undergo procedures because I have lived it too. As a sign language interpreter, I also understand how crucial communication and education are for heart families. Medical innovation is constantly evolving, and with that comes the ability to improve care using new teaching tools and technology, such as 3D heart models. I’m honoured to provide a family’s perspective to this project, in hopes to be a bridge between the innovation behind these exciting new ideas, and the families who will benefit from them.

Jared Sheridan

Pediatric Cardiology fellow, Stollery Children's Hospital

I am training to become an expert in children’s heart disease. When families first learn their child has a heart condition, it can be pretty scary. The 3D heart project will give us the tools to help families understand their child’s unique heart, and will makes the journey through the hospital a little less frightening. I am excited to share these models with our patients and families in order to revolutionize how we explain heart disease, and make that experience seamless and inviting.

Michael McNally

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education

I have a passion for working with others to figure out how information and educational resources can be shared more broadly – whether that is beyond the walls of the classroom and into the local community or across the globe. The 3D Heart Project will help to break down barriers to understanding and knowledge on children’s heart disease through physical and digital models for the benefit of parents and families as well as medical students, practitioners and educators both here and afar.

Our collaborators

Dr. Michelle Noga

Cardiologist

Dr. Kumaradevan Punithakumar

Computer Scientist

Jessalyn Rohs

Medical student

Carol Hodgson

Research consultant, IDEAS Office

Stay tuned for our full launch! 🚀❤️

We will be launching our library of hearts in the summer of 2022. Sign up here to be notified of when we will be hosting our launch celebration!

Our supporters