3D printed organ models used to save NI lives now on display in exhibitions

  • 3D printed models of transplant organs used to help local surgeons plan are now on display in exhibitions in London and Dublin.

    Medical technology has advanced considerably in the past several years, but one of the most unexpected advances has come from the world of 3D printing. Surgeons can now order custom 3D prints of anatomy based on detailed MRI scan data to help them plan complex surgeries such as organ transplants.

    One such case hit Northern Ireland in 2015, when a 3D printed facsimile was instrumental in allowing a father from Antrim to donate one of his kidneys to his three year old daughter. Lucy suffered heart failure at four weeks old that severely damaged her developing kidneys, forcing doctors to put her on dialysis until she was old enough to be given a kidney transplant.

    Due to the size difference between her body and her father's donor kidney, surgeons produced 3D printed models of both the kidney and Lucy's abdomen to aid with their planning. The models used in the successful operation are now on display in the Science Museum in London.

    A similar case recently involved local NI specialist axial3D producing a model of a kidney for transplant that first had to have a tumor removed. The model was instrumental in planning the surgery, which wouldn't have been possible without the 3D printed facsimile. Some of axial3D's work is now on display in the Dublin Science Gallery's PLASTIC "Can't live with it, Can't live without it" exhibition until Februrary.

    Source: BBC News, axial3D, Dublin Science Gallery

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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