World Health Organisation reported that cardiovascular disease is the world’s leading cause of death and transplants are currently the only option available for patients in the worst cases.
Unfortunately, there aren’t enough donors for all patients in need of a new heart, and even if they do get one, there is always the risk of the body rejecting the transplant; seeing it as a foreign object inside the body.
Nevertheless, heart transplantation technology has been of immense help to the field of medicine; saving a good number of lives which normally, could have been lost due to a failed heart or cardiovascular disease.
Studies stated that almost 114,000 people in the United States are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant. And another name is added to the national transplant waiting list every 10 minutes.
It’s even worse when the patient needs a heart transplant because unlike a transplant for a kidney, or a part of the liver, lung, intestine, blood or bone marrow, a healthy living person can become a donor but when it comes to the heart, the donor has to be ‘dead’ already.
Researchers are acutely aware of this problem and like everybody else looking for answers to the problem. A solution is the only thing everybody could hope for.
Not until recently, Researchers at Tel Aviv University reported that they’ve come up with a ‘major medical breakthrough’ which will advance possibilities for transplants.
The medical breakthrough has to do with 3D-printing which has been around for a while now, and have been used extensively in other works of life and almost no day passes without some new development being announced.
The Scientists in Israel have finally made a huge leap forward by making a 3D print of a human heart with human tissue and vessels.
This is the first and a “major medical breakthrough” that advances possibilities for transplants.
While the technology is definitely not yet ready to be used as a transplant, scientists believe it will one day metamorphose into something perfect and let surgeons replace failed human hearts with them.
According to Tal Dvir, who led the project.
The rabbit-sized heart produced by researchers at Tel Aviv University marks “the first time anyone anywhere around the world has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers”.
“People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels,” he told AFP.
A lot of work still needs to go into this project before fully working 3D printed hearts can become available for transplant into patients.
One of the things remaining for the scientists to do is to teach the printed hearts “to behave” like real ones. While the cells are currently able to contract, they still cannot pump blood.
“Maybe, in 10 years, there will be organ printers in the finest hospitals around the world, and these procedures will be conducted routinely,”
That’s the type of world everybody has been praying for. The long national transplant waiting list will start been empty and the number of people dying because of failed hearts will decrease drastically.
In order to develop the “ink” for their 3D print, they took fatty tissue from patients.
Using the patient’s own tissue is crucial to eliminate the risk of an implant causing an immune response and being rejected, Dvir said.
“The biocompatibility of engineered materials is crucial to eliminating the risk of implant rejection, which jeopardizes the success of such treatments”.
While there are certainly still some tough challenges ahead of the researchers, but with the first leap out of the way, 3D printed organs could become a common reality in the near future and save hundreds of thousands of lives.
What do you think?