Can Doctors 3D Print A Working Kidney?

Can Doctors 3D Print A Working Kidney?

Instead of patients receiving needed organs through transplants, could manufactured ones solve the organ shortage problem?

Allie Walker
  • 27 june 2012

According to the United Network for Organ Donation, there are 92,679 people on the kidney transplant waiting list, but due to a limited organ donor supply, an estimated 4,500 people on the list will die this year waiting for a viable organ.

What if, instead of waiting for a kidney, doctors could print one on-demand for patients? It’s a possibility that Surgeon Anthony Atala is exploring:

[Our lab uses] a desktop inkjet printer, but instead of using ink, we’re using cells.

Together with his team at Wake Forest’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Atala uses a CT scanner to create a 3D image of the organ that needs to be replaced. This computer model is then used as the basis for construction; using a small tissue sample from the patient to seed the printer, a new, working, and viable organ is built layer by layer. Right now, the printing process takes about 7 hours.

Although the printed kidneys are years away from functional use, Atala has used the technology to create a working bladder; Luke Masella received a bladder manufactured by Atala 10 years ago. Atala envisions a future in which scanners and printers can be used to treat wounds (printing tissue directly onto patients!) and to manufacture organs, helping to solve the organ-donation shortage by creating organs on-demand.

Watch a kidney prototype being printed below:

Wake Forest Institute For Regenerative Medicine


Fitness Advocate: Paving The Future of Workouts With Audio

Fitness & Sport
Brand Development Today

Swipe Left On A Dating World Built To Keep You Single And Disconnected

Hinge's VP of Marketing Karen Fein tells us about the service's daring ditch of the swiping culture that's designed to attract advertising revenue, not meaningful connections

Arts & Culture Today

Marvel Comic Tells The Story Of A Heroic Syrian Mother

Madaya Mom is the true tale of a family trapped inside a town for over a year


Get PSFK's Related Report: Sports Debrief

See All
Retail Today

Brooklyn Cafe Lets Customers Pay By The Hour, Not By The Cup

Glasshour is an establishment that provides free coffee and pastries and charges for the time guests spend there

Technology Today

Electric Spoon Changes The Way Food Tastes

The Taste Buddy is being developed to manipulate your taste buds and make everything more delicious

Travel Today

Bike Path In Poland Can Glow For 20 Years Using Solar Power

Cyclists can follow the shimmering blue lanes for better safety each time they ride

Technology Today

Open-Source Toolkit Lets Communities Build Their Own Street Furniture

The Wikiblock database contains 30 blueprints of different neighborhood fixtures including benches, bus stops, and kiosks

Food Today

Tiny Pub Only Has Space For Three People

Make Time For It is a small London pop-up bar that encourages conversation without the distraction of technology


Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry

PSFK Op-Ed Today

Community Builder: How to Hack Slack

Claire Wasserman, Founder of Ladies Get Paid, describes how she's using an internal team communication tool to build a network of thousands

PSFK Labs october 21, 2016

PSFK Picks: Top 5 Performance-Enhancing Wearables

Our new report looks at innovations pioneering the future of performance through intelligent activewear and predictive analytics

Advertising Today

This Beer Was Brewed Just For Scotch Drinkers

Highland Park Scotch Whisky & Sixpoint Brewery have teamed up to create two limited-edition pairings for New York City boilermakers

Mobile Today

Let An AI Librarian Help Sort Your Digital Bookmarks

A new app uses machine learning to help organize your virtual life

Mobile Today

Pizza Hut Tattoo Lets You Place An Order From Your Body

The latest gimmick from the fast-food chain is a tattoo-like sticker that lets customers get delivery with a simple tap on their arm

Travel Today

Reinvented Bicycle Inspired By Supercar Design

The yellow bike based on a Lamborghini has sharp edges and an aluminum alloy frame

Health Today

Health Platform Gives Perspective On Your Weekly Habits

Gyroscope is a new wellness app that works by amalgamating data about your life into beautifully designed visuals

Beauty Today

Korean Beauty Brand Uses VR To Let Customers Pick Their Ingredients

Innisfree created a unique experience for its Shanghai Disneyland customers with a virtual reality trip to select what goes into their purchase

Arts & Culture Today

3D-Printed Creations Resemble Floating Paper Outlines

Japanese design firm Nendo's exhibition features works that look like sheets of material being folded, torn, and crumpled

Technology october 21, 2016

Concept Camera Designed To Only Take Unique Photos

Camera Restricta is tool that prompts photographers to only capture one-of-a-kind images

No search results found.