Until bioprinters are reality, 3D printing can still save lives

Gigaom

A two-year-old girl born with a hole in her heart had a life-saving operation in London last month thanks to a 3D printer. Perhaps equally astounding is that she’s not the first.

Mina Khan was born with a hole in the wall between two chambers of her heart, a condition that left her exhausted and unable to gain weight or even grow hair. The deformity was so severe doctors said it likely couldn’t be repaired – but by creating an exact 3D replica of her heart using MRI and computerized tomography scans, surgeons at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London were able to design a bespoke patch, practice and perfect how to stitch it into place, and ultimately perform the surgery successfully on the girl’s actual heart.

“The 3D printing meant we could create a model of her heart and then see the inside of it with a replica of the…

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