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Surgeons Perform First Kidney Transplant On Toddler Through 3-D Printing Model

Update Date: Jan 27, 2016 01:28 PM EST
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A 3-D model of an adult donor's kidney, as well as a child's abdomen, led to a life-saving transplant, reports the Telegraph.

It started when Lucy Boucher from Northern Ireland underwent oxygen starvation due to heart failure when she was just four months old. It damaged her kidney such that her family believed that she would require kidney dialysis for the rest of her life.

"There have been lots of ups and downs along the way," said Mrs Boucher. "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.

Now that she is three years old, surgeons from London's Guy's and St. Thomas' and Great Ormond Street Hospital transferred her father, Chris Boucher's kidney to her. The family employed detailed modeling techniques in order to make a map of the procedure.

"My first reaction when I saw the 3-D printout of my kidney was surprise at how big it was and I wondered how it could possibly fit into Lucy," said Boucher. "Seeing the model of her abdomen and the way the kidney was going to be transplanted inside her gave me a clear understanding of exactly what was going to happen."

His amazement was echoed by her mother, Ciara.

"We found it amazing that we could see these incredibly detailed models of Chris' kidney and Lucy's abdomen," she said. "Considering all the potential complications, it's fantastic that everything has gone so well - it's a massive relief. The transplant is life-changing for Lucy."

3-D printing models help to perform complex surgeries due to scientists' ability to increase their safety when they map out the whole procedure, according to BBC News.

Through the technique, the team too is able to go through every step of the surgery, which ensures that there would be no awkward surprises when the actual operation is taken up, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

"The most important benefit is patient safety. The 3-D printed models allow informative, hands-on planning, ahead of the surgery with replicas that are the next best thing to the actual organs themselves," said Pankaj Chandal, the transplant surgeon. "So essentially, this [the 3-D models] helps us with particularly planning that approach, but thinking about the incision, how to approach the vessels and the best lie of the kidney inside the abdomen."

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