3D model used to aid complicated kidney transplant

A 3D printed model of a kidney has helped surgeons in Belfast perform a complex and life-changing transplant on a young west Belfast mum.

Twenty-two-year-old Pauline Fenton was born with damaged kidneys and desperately needed a transplant.

Her dad William explained: “She was just constantly exhausted, she’s a good wee mother she does her best but before she had the kidney she was exhausted, you could see it in her face. Constantly tired.”

William was a match but a cyst buried in his kidney meant it would not normally be considered for a transplant.

But then the potential to use a 3D printed model of his kidney changed everything.

A 3D printed model was produced and it allowed surgeons could practice and plan their surgery before going into theatre.

Daniel Crawford from Axial3D, the company which made the model, said they could print the kidney in 3D straight from a CT scan.

At the City Hospital - surgeons were able to use the model to plan their procedure with precision.

Consultant Transplant Surgeon Tim Brown commented: “We’ve got a huge waiting list and not as many donors as people need, so what we’re trying to do is close that gap and we’re trying to make cases that a couple of years ago perhaps weren’t able to be used as organ donors, we’re now able to turn them into organ donors.”

For Pauline it's been a life changing experience.

“Before I would have struggled to get up and do things where as now I’m getting up and going,” she said.

“I’m just very thankful that it was able to be done because to watch a wee girl that age not having a life, it’s terrible, so it’s nice to see she’s able to get a bit of life about her now.”

It may be a simple concept but Belfast's transplant team believe this idea has the potential to help others who are waiting on their own transplant miracle.