Kidney Transplant using 3D Printing Marks A Medical First in Belfast

A 3D printed model of a kidney has helped Belfast surgeons perform a complex and life-saving transplant operation on a young Belfast mother.
It is the first described case of complete excision of a Bosniak 2F renal cyst from a donor kidney without the requirement of revision surgery

22 year old Pauline Fenton, a young mother from Belfast, UK, was living with end stage kidney disease and was wholly reliant on dialysis. Her 45 year old father, William was confirmed to be a suitable living donor, but was blood group incompatible.

However, the discovery of a potentially cancerous cyst on William’s donor kidney meant an already complex procedure would have an extra level of complexity. As the cyst would first require treatment before the incompatible transplant could proceed, surgeons at Belfast City Hospital made the decision to use an innovative 3D printed replica model of the father’s donor kidney (printed exactly from his CT scans).
This allowed the team of surgeons to ascertain the size and placement of the tumour and cyst, so the surgical team could plan and prepare for the surgery to remove the cyst and transplant the kidney to 22 year old Pauline.

Consultant Transplant Surgeon Tim Brown explains “In this case, our donor’s kidney was the best possible option for his daughter’s life saving transplant, so we had to ensure precise and complete excision of the cyst to retrieve maximum healthy tissue for transplantation”.
Mr Brown continues “We planned and rehearsed the surgery precisely, using an exact replica of the donor kidney containing the size and position of cyst, so my team knew the precise procedure required in the operating theatre. This level of insight is just not achievable with standard pre-operative imaging. This father’s gift of life to his daughter proves the benefit of living organ donation but in this case, I’m certain 3D printing also played a part in helping us to give this young mother an improved quality of life and the opportunity to see her child grow up.”
As surgeons, we are highly trained and skilled at what do, but by having a 3D print of the patient’s anatomy in my hand, I get an extra level of understanding that just isn’t possible with 2D or 3D images on screen. In this case, I could plan the surgery in detail, considering the best approach, as well as the potential problems, before stepping into the operating theatre.

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