3D-Printed Heart Valve Makes The Transplant Wait List Bearable

Researchers in England have developed a 3D-printed battery-operated implant that helps people continue in their daily lives while waiting for a transplant.

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University have developed a 3-D printed implant that will help a damaged heart circulate blood, while patients wait for a new organ.

The impant, is coated in a flexible material that expands with voltage allowing it to pump blood through the aorta. Often times, those with heart failure, who are waiting for a transplant, are bed-ridden because they must be plugged into a device that will do the same thing. This device is 3D printed to fit the exact shape of each person’s aortic valve and allows a person to move around, without being tied down to a power cable. A shortcoming of the new implant is that it is battery-operated, so would have to be replaced every once and awhile, requiring more surgery. But the team at Nottingham Trent are working to fix that issue. Philip Breedon, a professor working on the project says:

The device is being refined to minimize its power usage, so as to allow it to run off commercially available, implantable, rechargeable batteries.

They are also working on a way to wirelessly charge the implant.

The development gives hope to those waiting for a transplant. The list is long, as is the wait, with over 160,000 people in Europe needing a new heart every year and only 600 available. The implant would make the wait more bearable, letting people get on with everyday living.

 Nottingham Trent University

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