How Can 3D Printing Human Heart Attenuate Problems with Shortage of Organ Donors?

At one point in time, 3D printing a human heart and other similar vital organs was just considered a figment of a wild imagination. Something straight out of a science fiction novel, unreal and just a fantasy. But who would have thought that one day something like that will come to life and become part of our reality? 

Actor Jim Gleason’s health took a 360-degree turn in 1990 when his heart was almost ruined by an infection. Doctors attending to his medical needs advised him that he will need a new heart. Needless to say, he was in serious trouble due to his heart condition. The odds of him being beaten by his unexpected and untimely illness is very high.

His name was immediately placed on the list of patients on the waiting list for organ heart donors Obviously, back during that time his chances to receive a heart organ donor are very bleak. Thus, his chances of surviving his heart condition are really low. Someone in his condition knows for a fact that. Fortunately, there was a match for Gleason.  

The donation came from a man from Brooklyn by the name of Roberto, who was attacked and subsequently was declared by doctors as brain dead. The donated heart gave him a second lease at life.  Not everyone, though, would be as fortunate as him. With that kind of opportunity, it is hard to come by. 

From the 1990s up until today, not much has changed with organ transplantation even though there have been great advances and milestones in modern medicine. Donated organs would still be taken out from donors who had just passed away to be given to patients, who themselves are often on the verge of death, too. And by some metrics, the patients we have today could be worse off as opposed to how they were about 25 years ago.  

3D Printing Quote for a Human Heart?

3D printing Australia may provide the solution we are looking for. The time and age where we can manufacture something delicate vital organs such as the human heart is now, in our era. 

medical experts

Harvard’s Wyss Institute scientists are asserting that we are a step closer to that level of reality. Their laboratory experiments helped them develop a groundbreaking new technique. It makes use of live, human cells to “3D print” a functional heart tissue. Needless to say, this kind of technology in the medical sphere is an important milestone that will help save lives by the thousands.  

Prior efforts though are not as successful as this now. This laboratory-grown heart tissue is beating in much the same way that a real human heart does. More importantly, it is equipped with the right amount of blood vessels that will make it survive on its own soon after it was transplanted to a recipient patient.  

The 3D printing technique is called sacrificial writing into functional tissue, or SWIFT for short. This technology is needing further testing work and it will be done to mice before it can be utilized for human use. By analogy, if this technology works for heart tissues, medical experts are asserting that SWIFT can also be taken advantage of to 3D print other vital organs such as kidneys and livers.  

Among the principal advantages of a 3D-printed organ, it will utilize the patient/recipient’s very own cells. It will be used as the primary building block of the new, 3D printed organ. By this measure, it will drastically take away the odds that the printed tissue will not be rejected by the patient’s body.  While this is, without a doubt, an exciting new technology that will help save a countless number of lives waiting for a human heart donor, there is still more work to be done before it can be safely used for humans.