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Lucy’s life-changing transplant

25.01.16 Categories: How donations help, News from the hospital, Patient stories,

Above image: (left to right) Lucy's brother Daniel, Lucy's mum Ciara, Lucy's dad Chris and Lucy

Last year, generous donations meant that we were able to buy a new 3D printer for Guy’s and St Thomas’. The printer has recently played a part in the world’s first use of 3D printing to support the successful transplantation of an adult kidney into a child.

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Lucy's story

Three-year-old Lucy Boucher suffered heart failure as a baby due to a condition which caused her heart to beat irregularly faster than normal. This resulted in her kidneys being starved of oxygen.

Lucy faced a lifetime of dialysis treatment due to the kidney failure. Having been referred to experts at Guy’s and St Thomas’, Lucy’s father, Chris, underwent surgery at Guy’s so he could become her kidney donor.

Models of Chris’s kidney and Lucy’s abdomen were produced using the 3D printer so that the transplant surgical team could accurately plan the highly complex procedure to minimise the risks involved.

A world firstPanjak Chandak, transplant registrar, with some 3D printouts created by the printer

It’s the first time in the world that 3D printing has been used to aid kidney transplant surgery involving an adult donor and a child recipient.

‘When I first saw the models I was taken aback by the level of detail that’s in them,’ says Lucy’s father Chris. ‘It really helped me get an idea in my head of what was going to happen.

‘My first reaction when I saw the 3D printout of my kidney was surprise at how big it was and I wondered how it could possibly fit into Lucy. But seeing the model of her abdomen and the way the kidney was going to be transplanted inside her gave me a clear understanding of what exactly was going to happen. It helped ease my concerns and it was hugely reassuring to know that the surgeons could carry out such detailed planning ahead of the operation.’

Based on measurements taken through CT and MRI scans, the 3D printer produces a model of liquid plastic, moulded under ultraviolet light to replicate the body parts’ size and density. Using the models, surgeons can assess the feasibility of the transplant and rehearse each step of the operation.

Safety and success

Lucy’s surgery lasted four hours and took place in November 2015 at Great Ormond Street Hospital, led by Guy’s and St Thomas’ consultant transplant surgeon Professor Nizam Mamode. The procedure was a success and both father and daughter are recovering well.

It was Mr Pankaj Chandak, transplant registrar at Guy’s and St Thomas’, who had the idea of using 3D printouts.

‘The most important benefit of using 3D printed models in this exciting new way is to patient safety,’ he says. ‘The 3D printed models allow informative, hands-on planning, ahead of the surgery with replicas that are the next best thing to the actual organs themselves. This means surgeons are better placed than before to prepare for the operation and to assess what surgical approach will offer the greatest chance of a safe and successful transplant.’

Looking forwards

Lucy was previously reliant on receiving dialysis treatment three times a week, but thanks to this operation she will now be able to start nursery this September. Her five-year-old brother Daniel is also looking forward to swimming with his baby sister for the first time.

‘Considering all the potential complications it’s fantastic that everything has gone so well – it’s a massive relief,’ says Lucy’s mother Ciara. ‘The transplant is life-changing for Lucy.’

You can help us buy more cutting-edge equipment like the 3D printer to help patients like Lucy. Find out more about how you can get involved.

Image above right: Panjak Chandak, transplant registrar, with some 3D printouts created by the printer