Since starting my training in the field of nephrology, my biggest dream has been to see my patients independent of dialysis and having a normal life. Kidney represents the human organ in highest demand among 120,000 U.S. patients waiting for organ donations.
The usual and most frequent source of kidneys for transplantation has been donation before cardiac death, formerly known as the heart-beating cadaveric donor. The increasing worldwide discrepancy between the availability and need for renal allografts has led to the increasing use of alternative sources of organs, including donation after cardiac death and live donors.
Approximately 18 people die every day waiting for an organ transplant. But that may change someday sooner than you think — thanks to 3D printing.
Over a year ago, I started this blog when I saw printing human kidney shown on TED.com.Like other forms of 3D printing, bio-printing lays down layer after layer of live cells to form a solid human tissue. The major stumbling block in creating tissue continues to be manufacturing the vascular system needed to provide it with life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients.
Researchers hope that new generations of 3D printers can use living human cells to build replacement organs — especially organs such as livers, hearts and kidneys.
A 3D-printed kidney, like other 3D-printed replacement organs, likely won’t become a reality within the next 10 or 15 years, researchers say. But they plan to use the simplified, miniature versions of 3D-printed organs created so far as guinea pigs for pharmaceutical drug testing — an idea that could help scientists to discover drugs suitable for humans more efficiently and ethically than animal testing.
Currently, there are about 120,000 people on the organ waiting list in the U.S., and even those who receive a donated organ face the prospect of ongoing medical challenges because of organ rejection issues. However, if a patient’s own stem cells could be used to regenerate a living organ, rejection would become moot.
To date, the researchers have been able to create a piece of tissue the size of a thumbnail and keep it alive for two weeks.
What do you guys think about this technology? Could this be a reality or a science fiction?
Ardavan Mashhadian D.O.
1127 Wilshire Blvd Suite 510
Los Angeles CA 90017
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