Florida 4-H youth invents medical device to save pig

When Cameron Swallows heard his sister crying, he knew he had a big problem to solve.

Her Florida 4-H pig was sick. Very sick. The pig, Hank, had rectal prolapse – a condition that can be fatal if left untreated – in November, and the veterinarian didn’t have the right medical device on his truck to save Hank.

Cameron, 11, sprang into action and got to work. He did the math, designed an appropriate-fitting medical device that would fit Hank’s needs and printed the part on his home Bambu Labs 3D printer. The veterinarian treated Hank and fixed his rectal prolapse, and Hank is a happy, healthy porker to this day.

Cameron Swallows, his sister and his Florida 4-H pig, Marcus. Photo by Suzette Cook of UF/IFAS

“I couldn’t let my sister down,” Cameron said. “This experience taught me that the skills I had could actually save a pig’s life.”

The fifth-grade inventor, who is part of the Grow ‘Em and Show ‘Em Florida 4-H club out of High Springs, Florida, has used his miniaturized medical part to save two more pigs, said his mom, Alex Swallows.

“Since he was little, he was always taking things apart and putting them back together,” she said.

He once took apart a table fan as a toddler – and reassembled it. He got his 3D printer for his 11th birthday. But more than anything, she said, Cameron wants to fix people’s problems.

“He’s a fixer,” she said.

Dr. Joe Guevara, veterinarian at On the Hoof Veterinary Services, said Cameron’s determination to save Hank was inspiring. He used the prolapse ring Cameron printed to keep Hank’s organs in the right spot while the pig healed, and a few days later, Hank was as good as new.

“I was impressed he was so willing and confident. It didn’t take him long to say ‘I can probably make this on my 3D printer,” he said. “I’m proud to know him.”

Cameron Swallows holding the prolapse ring he 3D printed. Photo/Meredith Bauer of UF/IFAS

Cameron said he wants to be an orthopedic surgeon one day, and that stems from his desire to help and fix people. He said he saw a friend break his arm playing football one day and has been thinking ever since about how he could help put people back together. He said he wants to save lives.

Florida 4-H has been instrumental in his drive to help people and animals, Cameron said. Florida 4-H offers its classic animal husbandry program, but youth can also learn about technology, civics, space science and a host of other activities that build strong, well-rounded people.

“Florida 4-H shows me how to actually learn how to take care of animals, and I make sure they have the best life,” he said.

Now, Hank waddles around their backyard and basks in the sun, healthy and free from pain.

“If I hadn’t helped, he would have died a really painful death,” Cameron said. “I didn’t want that.”


The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.

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4-H is the youth development program of the land-grant university system and Cooperative Extension System. The program provides hands-on educational programs and experiences for youth ages 5 to 18 with the objective of developing youth as individuals, and as responsible and productive citizens. In Florida, 4-H is administered by University of Florida/IFAS Extension and Florida A&M University.


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Posted: March 21, 2024

Category: UF/IFAS

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