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3D Printed Heart Helps Doctors Save 2 Year Old in London

Natasha-buckley Paul-Cooper

A two year old girl born with a heart so deformed doctors thought it could not be repaired is living a normal life after scientists used a 3D printer to create a copy of the organ.

Photo Paul Cooper

Mina Khan is one of the first Britons to benefit from a pioneering technique in which 3D printers create replicas of diseased organs, giving an exact replica for doctors to study, in Minas case the doctors treating hear at St Thomas’s Hospital, could see the exact position and dimensions of the hole in the wall between her ventricles, the heart chambers that pump blood around the body.

When you operate on a heart, it is necessary to drain the blood from the organ, resulting in it collapsing , making it almost impossible to visualise.  

The 3D printing produces an exact replica of the organ and allows surgeons to find out the exact differences inside a patient’s body, and even to practise procedures, before operating on the person.

The technique was pioneered by Doctor Gerald Grell who specialises in creating 3Dimages of such high-resolution of organs, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerised tomography, these are then digitally “stitched together” crating a 3D image that can be viewed from any angle.

This can then be printed. Producing an almost exact replica together with the defects, allowing doctors to try different techniques and handle the 3D organ personally.