Life is Sweet

3D Printed Kidney Used in Life-Saving Operation for Baby

3D Printed Kidney

Doctors have used a 3D Printed Kidney to plan a toddler’s kidney transplant. And the pictures of the happy family post-operation are magnificent.

The many uses of 3D printing in the field of medicine are far reaching. From prosthetics for chickens to visualizing procedures, innovative doctors are putting 3D printing to good use.

The technology came in especially handy when doctors in Ireland used a 3D printed kidney to imagine something they never trained for: putting an adult-sized kidney into a toddler-sized body.


As a baby, Lucy suffered heart failure at four weeks old, and her kidneys failed from lack of oxygen. Mother, Ciara Boucher, explains that there was trouble from the very beginning.

“The day that she took ill we were told when we were leaving our local hospital to say goodbye to her because she may not make the journey to Belfast.”

The girl’s father would step in and offer his own kidney, but the procedure would have to wait. Lucy was put on kidney dialysis until she was old enough to receive the transplant. That’s where 3D printing helped ease the process.

3D Printed Kidney (Image: Guys and St Thomas' Hospital)
3D Printed Kidney (Image: Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital)

3D Printed Kidney used for Critical Surgery Preparations

As noted by father, Chris Boucher, it’s incredibly hard to image the physical reality of such an unusual transplant.

“It was phenomenal to see it and then to just hold it over Lucy’s abdomen—you just think: ‘How on earth can they fit that into this abdomen?’”

Luckily, the doctors were prepared. 3D printed replicas of Lucy’s abdomen and Chris’ kidney were made beforehand. Surgeons at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital used the models to plans their movements. Being able to physically see, hold, and compare the two pieces was integral to making it a reality.

Happy, healthy girl (Image: Chris Boucher)

In the end, the kidney transplant proved successful. Those involved appreciate the security that 3D printing offered, and the family seems to be in full recovery. “She’s smiled right through it and that’s because of the nurses and the staff and the way they’ve been with her,” they report.

It’s awesome that 3D printing isn’t just saving lives, but it is gaining attention for doing so. As stories like these keep spreading, more and more people may be inspired to turn popular technology into something more.

(Via: BBC)