The Future is not what it used to be. Historically, lives have been put at risk waiting for a new liver, kidney, or heart. This long waiting period is about to end. With the technical advancements in 3D Printing, the making of a new heart can be a reality. Today, 121,000 Americans are fighting for their survival waiting for organ donations. On average, 21 Americans die per day because they were not able to receive a donation in time. There is now a hopeful solution for those in peril.

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine has made significant strides in the BioPrinting field. They have successfully printed and implanted ears, bones and muscles into animal bodies. The incredible part is that after the implantation, the body parts became functional tissue with working blood vessels. Dr. Anthony Atala, Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and his team at Wake Forest have already grown and implanted a fully functional human bladder. The Institute is looking at 3D Printing as a technical tool to improve and streamline the organ creation process.

The Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine is one of the main stakeholders of the research done at Wake Forest. They hope to use bio-printing to help wounded veterans. On June 27th, Colleen Murray received a 3D Printed prosthetic ear with the help of Deakin University’s Dr. Mazher Mohammed, Research Fellow at the School of Engineering, and Brenton Cadd, Head of Facial Prosthetics at The Royal Melbourne Hospital. It was printed using skin-like silicone. It was the first time in over 55 years she had two ears, something most people take for granted.

Soldiers come back battered and wounded from the battlefield. Replacing their skin or ears can help them heal physically as well as emotionally. The long wait for organ donation may become a relic of the past. With each advancement, printing living organs has become less of a dream and more of a reality. The wait can go from years to days, maybe even hours. Each new discovery saves more lives as we become closer to creating living tissue. Who knows, maybe receiving an organ will be as easy as ordering a movie.

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Written By Robert Hudson,