A pioneering 3D-printed model of a child’s abdomen has been donated to the Science Museum — by the girl whose life it helped save.
Models of Lucy Boucher’s abdomen and one of her father’s kidneys were created to help surgeons plan her kidney transplant.
It is the first time 3D printing has been used to aid a transplant involving placing an adult-sized donor kidney into a child’s abdomen. It meant that medics could simulate the surgery in advance, minimising the risks.
Lucy, from Antrim in Northern Ireland, gave the museum the model of her father Chris’s kidney as well as the one of her stomach. Both will go on permanent display at the museum’s Medicine Galleries, due to open in 2019.
She had the operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital in November 2015, when she was two.
Mr Boucher, 36, an assistant church minister, donated his kidney in a procedure at Guy’s Hospital. He said: “It was a great privilege for Lucy to hand the models over. We never expected such a lovely thing to result from something that began as a dark, horrible experience when Lucy developed heart failure as a baby and then kidney failure, and then needed dialysis treatment until she had her transplant.
“Lucy is thriving — the kidney is working well in her, she’s grown a lot, her appetite is excellent, she’s now at nursery and enjoying ballet classes.
“Being part of the exhibition is a great testament to what a lot of medics in the NHS are doing and how by being determined, innovative and forward thinking they are making healthcare the best it can be. We are very excited to be part of the new exhibition.
“One of my earliest memories as a young boy was visiting the Science Museum on holiday in London so it’s a bit bizarre that the models of Lucy and I will be on permanent display there. It’s wonderful to think that I’ll still be able to go to the museum to look at the models when I’m an old man.”
The 3D printer uses measurements obtained through CT and MRI scans to produce a model of liquid plastic, moulded under ultraviolet light to replicate the body part’s size and density.
Pankaj Chandak, a transplant registrar at Guy’s, masterminded the use of the models, which he said were “the next best thing to the actual organs”.
He added: “It’s wonderful to see how well Lucy is doing and it’s an honour to know that millions of people of all ages will be able to learn about the models and Lucy’s surgery when they visit the Science Museum.