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Little Lucy Boucher in world first as she receives father's kidney with help of 3D printing

By Joanne Sweeney

Published 26/01/2016

Daniel, Ciara, Chris and Lucy Boucher
Daniel, Ciara, Chris and Lucy Boucher
Transplant registrar Pankaj Chandak

Little Lucy Boucher has made medical history by receiving the world's first successful transplantation of an adult kidney into a child aided by 3D printing.

The three-year-old Antrim girl received her father Chris' kidney when she underwent the pioneering operation last November.

3D printing was used by the surgical team at Guy's and St Thomas' and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London to intricately plan the complex operation.

By producing life-sized plastic anatomically correct models of both the father's kidney and his daughter's much smaller abdomen, the team were able to see beforehand the challenges they faced in transplanting the larger organ.

The 3D printer produces a model of liquid plastic, based on measurements taken through CT and MRI scans.

Last night, her father described Lucy - who suffered heart failure at just four weeks old - as the "bubbliest, bounciest, happiest, active little girl" around.

And he revealed that the medical challenge of keeping Lucy alive resulted in a ground-breaking dialysis machine being adapted to suit her needs, which will benefit other infants in the future.

He said: "There was some worry that Lucy had also experienced neurological damage but she's met every developmental milestone: she's talking, she's counting, she's getting up to everything.

"We are so thankful to all the medical teams who have helped her along the way and our families and friends who supported us."

Mr Pankaj Chandak, a transplant registrar at Guy's and St Thomas', whose idea it was to use 3D printouts, said: "Lucy has been through a tremendous amount. She's great-spirited and her family were fantastic. It was a great pleasure to have helped her and to do this kind of work."

The family hope that - after Lucy having nearly died several times, and her young life being hampered with so much illness and so many medical obstacles - she will now enjoy a healthy childhood.

Mr Boucher (35), a lay preacher with Glengormley Methodist Church, recalled the day he and his wife Ciara (32) discovered their baby girl was critically ill.

"Lucy was perfectly healthy and normal until she was four weeks old. We went to lift Lucy in the morning and she was cold and looked ghostly pale with blue lips," he said.

Lucy was taken to Antrim Area Hospital where, within minutes of receiving her, doctors realised she was in heart failure.

She had developed supraventricular tachycardia, meaning her heart was beating irregularly faster than normal.

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

When she come through heart surgery at Newcastle Hospital, Lucy needed surgery on her bowel and dialysis as her kidneys had been damaged.

Due to her having had the bowel surgery, the recently developed haemodialysis NIDUS machine (Newcastle Infant Dialysis & Ultrafiltration System) was adapted to be used on her as an older infant.

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