Girl donates 3D models to Science Museum

Girl donates 3D models to Science Museum

A young girl who received a lifesaving kidney transplant with the help of a 3D printer purchased with a grant from us has handed over the 3D models to the Science Museum.

Surgeons at Guy’s Hospital pioneered the use of 3D printing to support the transplant that  four-year-old Lucy Boucher, from Antrim in Northern Ireland, had in November 2015, after her father Chris donated his kidney to her.

The team created models of Lucy’s 10 kilogram abdomen and Chris’ kidney to help surgeons accurately plan the complex surgery and to minimise any risks. This meant that any issues involved with transplanting an adult sized donor kidney into a child’s small abdomen could be identified in advance.

It was the first time in the world that 3D printing was used to assist kidney transplant surgery involving an adult donor and child recipient.

Lucy and Chris have now donated the 3D models to the Science Museum to put them on permanent display as part of the Museum’s new Medicine Galleries, which are due to open in 2019. The new galleries will showcase cutting-edge health innovations like 3D printing alongside medical breakthroughs from throughout history.

“It was a great privilege for Lucy to hand the models over. We never expected such a lovely thing to result from something that began as a dark, horrible experience when Lucy developed heart failure as a baby and then kidney failure, and then needed dialysis treatment until she had her transplant. Seeing the models before Lucy’s transplant helped me to understand what would happen and eased my concerns about the surgery. It was reassuring to know that the surgeons could plan the operation in such detail before it took place.”

Chris, Lucy's dad and assistant church minister.

Pankaj Chandak masterminded the use of the 3D printouts for Lucy’s surgery, which was carried out at Great Ormond Street after Chris donated his kidney during a keyhole procedure at Guy’s. 

“I’m delighted that these models will be on display at the Science Museum. It’s wonderful to see how well Lucy is doing and it’s an honour to know that millions of people of all ages will be able to learn about the models and Lucy’s surgery when they visit the Science Museum. 3D printing is an exciting development and in Lucy’s case meant that we could plan to overcome the complexities that transplanting an adult sized donor kidney into a child’s small abdomen can bring."

Pankaj Chandak, transplant registrar at Guy's Hospital. 

Based on measurements obtained through CT and MRI scans, the 3D printer produces a model of liquid plastic, moulded under ultraviolet light to replicate the body part’s size and density. Each model took more than 10 hours to print and used materials which best matched the bony, hard pelvis and softer structures such as the liver, adding texture to them.