3D printing helps toddler receive adult kidney

LONDON (REUTERS) - Lucy Boucher suffered heart failure as a baby, leaving her kidneys starved of oxygen.

After successful heart surgery, Lucy faced a lifetime on dialysis.

But the three-year-old no longer needs this thrice-weekly treatment after receiving a donor kidney from father Chris two months ago in a groundbreaking operation.

Surgeons at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London used 3D printed models to discover how best to perform the tricky procedure.

"So, this is the abdominal print of Lucy's abdomen. Now, she's a 10 kilogram child, she's two years old, so this was produced essentially from measurements from CT and MR scans. And this is Lucy's liver, this is the side walls of her abdomen and this is her bony pelvis. So the printer actually produces this in different densities, so this is quite hard whereas this is quite soft - enabling us to move it just like it would do in the human body."

The hospital says it's the first time in the world that 3D printing was used to aid a kidney transplant involving an adult donor and child recipient.

"We made a decision at the time that we can fit the kidney into this space here without having to remove Lucy's right kidney. And the best lie of the kidney was essentially not like that, but like that. And we would then join the vessels up in this manner here, there's the vein and there's the artery, and then we would join the urethra onto the bladder. So essentially it was fitting in like that." said Mr Pankaj Chandak, Specialist Registrar in Transplant Surgery at Guy's And St Thomas' Hospital

The four-hour surgery was a success, and Lucy's speedy recovery has surprised even her family.

"I was really wiped out for the first couple of weeks, whereas within a week or so Lucy was bounding around everywhere; literally bouncing on the bed, running around the ward happily playing, and I felt shattered." said Chris Boucher, Lucy's father.

For Lucy the transplant means she's on the road to recovery and looking forward to attending nursery next year in Northern Ireland.

"What did daddy give you?" Chris asks.

"A kidney, in my tummy." says Lucy.

"And how do you feel?"

"Better." Lucy replies.