Belfast surgeons take 3D route in life-saving transplant

Surgeons turn to printed model of donor kidney ahead of father and daughter operation

The team of surgeons in preparing for the transplant discovered a potentially cancerous cyst on the donor kidney. File photograph: Getty Images

The team of surgeons in preparing for the transplant discovered a potentially cancerous cyst on the donor kidney. File photograph: Getty Images

 

In a medical first, surgeons in Belfast have used a 3D printed model of a kidney to help to assist in preparations for a young woman’s life-saving organ transplant.

Pauline Fenton (22), a mother from Belfast, was entirely reliant on dialysis treatment and required a kidney transplant.

Following tests, doctors confirmed her father William Fenton (45) was a suitable donor.

In preparing for the transplant, the team of surgeons discovered a potentially cancerous cyst on his donor kidney, which would first have to be removed before the organ could be implanted into his daughter.

Surgeons at Belfast City Hospital prepared for the complex procedure on a 3D printed model of Mr Fenton’s kidney. A replica of the donor kidney was created using CT scans.

‘Healthy tissue’

The model, created by Belfast company axial3D, allowed the surgeons to examine the size and location of the tumour and cyst.

Tim Brown, one of the consultant transplant surgeons who carried out the operation, said the team “had to ensure precise and complete excision of the cyst to retrieve maximum healthy tissue for transplantation.

“We planned and rehearsed the surgery precisely, using an exact replica of the donor kidney containing the size and position of cyst. So my team knew the precise procedure required in the operating theatre,” said Mr Brown.

He said detailed insight provided by the model was unavailable using standard preoperative procedures and 2D imagery of the organs.

Daniel Crawford, founder of axial3D, said both father and daughter are doing well after surgery.

“We’re delighted that our work provided significant benefit for this family,” he said.