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Surgeon 'Prints' Real Kidney on TED Stage

by VR Sreeraman on March 4, 2011 at 5:08 PM
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 Surgeon 'Prints' Real Kidney on TED Stage

Dr Anthony Atala, a surgeon specializing in regenerative medicine, "printed" a real kidney using a machine that eliminates the need for donors when it comes to organ transplants.

"It's like baking a cake," said the surgeon of the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine, as he cooked up a fresh kidney on stage at a TED Conference in the California city of Long Beach.

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Scanners are used to take a 3-D image of a kidney that needs replacing, then a tissue sample about half the size of postage stamp is used to seed the computerized process, Atala explained.

The organ "printer" then works layer-by-layer to build a replacement kidney replicating the patient's tissue.

College student Luke Massella was among the first people to receive a printed kidney during experimental research a decade ago when he was just 10 years old.
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He said he was born with Spina Bifida and his kidneys were not working.

"Now, I'm in college and basically trying to live life like a normal kid," said Massella, who was reunited with Atala at TED.

"This surgery saved my life and made me who I am today."

About 90 percent of people waiting for transplants are in need of kidneys, and the need far outweighs the supply of donated organs, according to Atala.

"There is a major health crisis today in terms of the shortage of organs," Atala said. "Medicine has done a much better job of making us live longer, and as we age our organs don't last."

Source: AFP
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