Hailed by its inventors as the first truly “breathable” material, it’s familiar to hikers all over the world.
But when Gore-Tex was launched back in 1978, the designers probably didn’t imagine it would one day help to save a little boy’s life.
Stanley Hampton was born on on New Year’s Day 2008 with a serious heart condition, called total anomalous pulmonary venous drainage (TAPVD). TAPVD is a condition where the heart veins are wrongly connected and the red, oxygenated blood is not carried around the body correctly, making the child appear blue.
Stanley underwent several operations at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital – but nothing seemed to work until surgeons tried a procedure involving a strip of specially prepared Gore-Tex.
Because Stanley was suffering from high blood pressure, there needed to be a way to release the pressure when it built up in the chambers, or ventricles, in his heart.
So a strip of strong, flexible, waterproof Gore-Tex was inserted between the two chambers.
It has a tiny hole in the middle so when Stanley's heart works harder and pressure builds up, it allows a small amount of blood to be released from one chamber to the other, releasing the pressure.
“We are one of just a handful of places in the world to have used this as a solution in fixing hearts and improving function,” a spokesman for the hospital said.
Stanley has since made a full recovery and now runs around just like any other toddler.
“He’s a real fighter,” Stanley’s mom Donna Reeve, 21, said. “At Great Ormond Street the nurses called him Stan the Man. They always told me to be strong, because he is a survivor.”