Banana Leaf

The Fine Line Where Technology Meets Medicine

By: Pooja Raghuram and Oliver Malkowski


3D Printers Can Print Organs?

The process of organ transplantation aids many patients that have a malfunctioning organ that prevents them from leading a normal life. Although getting an organ transplant does not ensure that it will function forever, it definitely makes a difference by allowing the patient to live longer. However, in just America, 8,000 patients die every year because the organs they need are not being donated in time to ensure their survival. To try decreasing this number, scientists have looked into the logistics of 3D printing organs, which will prove to be a huge advancement in the medical field if deemed possible.


Artificial vs Authentic

For one thing, implanting artificial organs has its own limitations. Ensuring that the printed organ is compatible with the human body may require stem-cell technology, and might even require the use of some of the patient’s cells for replication purposes. Even if everything works out using the patient’s cells, there is no guarantee that the artificial organ will even work or last as long as a real organ. The lack of utmost precision in a 3D printer might even cause more problems for the patient after the imperfect organ is implanted in the body. These disadvantages are becoming seemingly clearer and clearer to critics and may prevent bioprinting from prevailing in the medical field.


Pros of 3D Printing Organs

3D printing an organ has the same technique as printing out other things with the 3D printer. The organs are created by utilizing polymers as the material being inserted into the printer to create tissue and organ fabrication, thus closely matching the real texture of an organ. Currently, a kidney transplant can cost up to $300,000, but using the new bioprinting technology could bring that number all the way down to $10,000. Saving $290,000 per transplant would mean so much in the long run, and can be used for many different things. Even with all these benefits, however, some people are becoming more and more skeptical of this process, and with good reason. Are artificial organs really even safe in the human body? Do people even want to replace their organ with an artificial one instead of one coming from a donor?


3D printing organs is definitely a unique way to approach the issue of patients that are not able to receive organ transplants in time. The benefits of 3D printing are that it is both cost-effective and time-efficient, but the drawbacks are that it may not be safe since printers are not extremely precise. After examining both the advantages and disadvantages of 3D printing, it really begs the question, is 3D printing organs worth it? While there is a chance of the whole process working out, is it really worth the risk to proceed with using printed organs rather than using a real one from a donor?


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