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3D Printed Models Allows Kidney Transplant Between Father and Son

The Telegraph reports on yet another astounding medical procedure undertaken using the invaluable aid of 3D printing.

Dexter Clark, who is two years old, is from Reading, Berkshire in the UK.  He “was born with severe kidney problems, which left him only able to eat from a feeding tube.”  Dexter’s father, Brendan, who is 36, agreed to donate his kidney.

The only problem?  “The adult organ is [of course] huge compared to the cavity in which it was to sit.”  So, surgeons at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust turned to the wonders of 3D printing.  They “scanned Mr. Clark’s kidney and his son’s abdomen and 3D printed both so that surgeons could find out if the transplant was even possible, and then worked out the best way to insert the organ…in Dexter’s case, the 3D printed models were also taken into the operating theater on the day of the transplant and reviewed by transplant surgeons.”

In similar circumstances, without 3D printing, Dexter would’ve had to be “placed under anesthesia [in order for] a surgical exploration to be carried out to determine feasibility.”  Now, however, because of 3D printing, “the need for surgical exploration can be reduced because pre-planning can happen before the patient is on the operating table.”

As Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Transplant Registrar Pankaj Chandak explains: “The ability to print a 3D model of the patient’s anatomy in varying textures, with the intricacies of the blood vessels clearly visible within it, enables us to differentiate critical anatomical relations between structures…[3D printing model organs] has the potential to really enhance and aid our decision-making process both during pre-surgical planning and in the operating room, and therefore can help in the safety of what is a very complex operation and improve our patient care.”  The surgeons utilized a Stratasys multi-material 3D printer.

Dexter’s mother, Emily Clark, concludes: “Since the transplant, Dexter is a changed boy, eating solid food for the very first time.  We always knew the operation would be complicated, but knowing the surgeons had planned the surgery with 3D models matching the exact anatomy of my husband’s kidney and son’s abdomen was extremely reassuring.  We hope Dexter’s case will offer other suffering families similar reassurance cutting-edge technology, such as 3D printing, can help surgeons better treat their loved ones.”

Image and Quotes Courtesy of The Telegraph

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