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Husband gives wife a piece of his lung in a revolutionary transplant with the help of a 3-D printer

8 Comments

After having difficulty breathing, a Kansai area resident went to the hospital where she learned that she had an irreversible case of pulmonary fibrosis (firming of lung tissue). The doctors told her that if she didn’t receive a transplant for her left lung she would die. Luckily, her own husband was found to be a suitable donor.

However, although his blood and tissue matched, there was a problem with the size of his lung. So a team of doctors at Kyoto University came up with a creative solution.

If someone has a failing lung and requires a transplant, one option would be to take an entire lung from a recently deceased donor. Although the patient can get a whole intact lung, the waiting lists are difficult and may require intensive surgery at a moment’s notice.

The other option would be to take an inferior lobe from two separate living donors. A healthy person can live a normal life with the loss of a single lobe, so the donors generally recover without issue. Although this situation is less urgent, it is understandably more complex for the person receiving the transplants.

In the case of this particular woman, an entire lung was needed but the only available donor was her husband. However, since time was of the essence, they would have to use only his one lobe to replace her entire left lung.

Unfortunately, the man’s inferior left lobe was truly inferior and too small to be used in such a way. A human’s right lung is about 20% larger than the left one which also has to share space with the heart. Therefore, while the man’s inferior left lobe was inadequate, his inferior right lobe was more than up to the task.

The challenge here is in attaching a piece of right lung into the place of a left lung. Given the opposite sides and positions, it becomes a dangerous puzzle to try and connect all the arteries and bronchi (blood and air passages) correctly.

To aid the Kyoto University medical staff, Nagoya City University lent the use of their 3-D printer. Together they could make a full 3-D model of the woman’s chest and map out exactly how they could make the right connections before proceeding.

Back in Kyoto in early March of this year, a team of 20 surgeons, all knowing exactly what needed to be done thanks to the use of the 3-D model, prepared for the operation. The procedure went relatively swiftly lasting only four and a half hours with both the husband and wife stable and in recovery.

After her surgery, the wife went into weeks of rehabilitation and was finally able to take 10,000 steps in a day, eventually being discharged on May 10. By this time her husband had long recovered and was already back to work.

During a press conference on May 14, one of the surgeons and Kyoto University professor Yoji Date passed along the woman’s message of gratitude. “Words can’t express how truly thankful I am. I feel like I was given a new life.”

Dr Date also declared the transplant a success and declared it the first of its kind done with a living donor. Although, there’s often a lot of talk about the dangers or silliness of 3-D printing, it seems we are only scratching the surface of the benefits that this technology can bring to the world.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News

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8 Comments
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There's a company in Japan that specializes in creating 3D models of complex organs and other sturctures in the body--like the heart and its related systems--for use both in medical training and in preparing for complex operations like this. They can even take MRI images and turn them into rubber models to perfectly replicate the heart of someone with a complex defect, for example--right down to the interior structures that would otherwise not be easily visible. It's pretty amazing, and greatly aids in the chances of a successful operation.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Unfortunately, the man’s inferior left lobe was truly inferior and too small to be used in such a way. A human’s right lung is about 20% larger than the left one which also has to share space with the heart. Therefore, while the man’s inferior left lobe was inadequate, his inferior right lobe was more than up to the task.

and

Dr Date also declared the transplant a success and declared it the first of its kind done with a living donor. Although, there’s often a lot of talk about the dangers or silliness of 3-D printing,

Jesus Christ. Sounds like a child wrote this.

Interesting story though.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Glad to see some positive coverage of 3d printers in the news to balance out the fear mongering from the ability to make crappy one shot guns.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

With all the garbage you hear about poor relationships and medicine here in Japan it is nice to know that not only did they succeed in doing a first-of-its-kind surgery, but that the husband could help save his better half's life.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Just amazing. Wow.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What an awesome story! To be honest, I'm really surprised that this happened in Japan! My image of Japan is that they aren't willing to take risks in hospitals - especially when it comes to transplants. Hurray for the drs who took the initiative to make this work for this family!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's not often I agree with smithinjapan. Glad to see they persevered and considered new options.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's all good, wonderful news for a couple who wished to be together for as long as they can. To fear technology is idiotic, only an evil person misusing technology has the capacity to harm others, its the human not the machine we should fear. We have machines that can take metal and form the most delicate designs using water jets and now 3-D printers having the ability to do similar work and benefiting mankind. More people can afford nicer items due to the advancements using machines to make products that previously required a great deal of hand labor, in the same way the 747 make international travel affordable for the middle class. Good luck to the couple, may they heal completely and enjoy a happy productive life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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