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Antrim girl donates 3D prints of 'world first' kidney op to London Science Museum

By Claire McNeilly

A little girl from Northern Ireland who had the world's first kidney transplant using 3D printing has donated the lifesaving 3D models to the Science Museum in London.

Four-year-old Lucy Boucher from Antrim, suffered heart failure as a baby when she developed supraventricular tachycardia - meaning her heart was beating irregularly and faster.

This resulted in her body, including her kidneys, being starved of oxygen.

Having undergone surgery to address her heart condition, Lucy faced a lifetime of dialysis treatment due to her kidney failure. But that changed when she was referred to experts at Guy's and St Thomas' and Great Ormond Street hospitals.

They performed the transplant on November 24, 2015, at Great Ormond Street, when Lucy was three, using a kidney donated by her father, Chris Boucher, during a procedure at Guy's Hospital.

The team created models of Lucy's 10-kilogram abdomen and Chris's kidney to help surgeons accurately plan the complex surgery and minimise any risks.

This meant any issues involved with transplanting an adult-sized donor kidney into a child's small abdomen could be identified in advance.

It was the first time in the world that 3D printing was used to assist kidney transplant surgery involving an adult donor and child recipient.

Lucy and Chris have now donated the 3D models to the Science Museum, where they will be on permanent display as part of the museum's new medicine gallery, which opens in 2019. It will showcase cutting-edge health innovations, like 3D printing, alongside medical breakthroughs throughout history.

Chris (36), an assistant church minister, said it was a privilege for Lucy to hand over the models. "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," he said.

"Lucy is thriving - the kidney is working well, 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."

Mr Boucher said they were "excited" to be part of the new exhibition, particularly as one of his earliest memories as a young boy was visiting the Science Museum on holiday in London.

"Seeing the models before Lucy's transplant helped me to understand what would happen and eased my concerns about the surgery," he added.

"It was reassuring to know that the surgeons could plan the operation in such detail before it took place."

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