When technology begins to approach the “hand of God”, science fiction becomes reality.
A few years ago the idea of creating a 3D printed transplantable organ was still in the realm of fiction. However, we are getting ever closer to this possibility.
Mr. George Sarris, pediatric heart (cardiac) surgeon, prints out three-dimensional children’s hearts. As he mentions to CNN Greece, it is an exact copy of the ailing organ.
“We import the data from CT / MRI scans and three-dimensional ultrasound, into a dedicated program which edits them and creates a copy of the heart. The next step is to print it. That way we have a complete and accurate representation of the ailing organ and we can make incisions in places that are prohibited for a doctor during an operation. Also, we can see the anatomy, identify problems and arrange precisely all the steps of the surgery, “says Mr. Sarris.
Over the past three months, as Mr. Sarris says, this method has been implemented in 15 children and adolescents and the results are impressive.
“The 3D reproduction of organs opens new horizons in medical science and facilitates our work. Here is an example. Until now, it was very difficult for a doctor to access a heart, which had been operated upon. In several universities around the world, hearts with various diseases have been preserved in formaldehyde. Imagine how hard it is for a doctor to travel to another continent in order to observe an organ, similar to the one he has been called on to operate. He would simply access books and illustrations instead. With 3D printing technology, the doctor now has the ability to see, not only a heart with a similar problem, but the patient’s organ itself and precisely evaluate his condition. ”
Could 3D printed hearts be transplanted? As Mr. Sarris believes, its a future possibility, as on going research is being conducted in order to find a solution – with the objective of eventually using live stem cells to create a new heart. If this research is successful, the printed organ would be compatible with the recipient’s body, avoiding problems of rejection. So it is a feasible possibility for the future.