Campaigner praises little Lucy in world first transplant
A HIGH-PROFILE campaigner has said a pioneering transplant carried out on a a little Co Antrim girl will help promote discussion around organ donation.
Shane Finnegan, who received a kidney donation from former GAA star Joe Brolly which failed after complications, said he hoped the "incredible" story of three-year-old Lucy Boucher would also raise awareness about medical advances and help reduce waiting lists.
"We are hearing more stories like Lucy's which are wonderful in highlighting the importance of medical science and also shifts the opportunity to talk about donation."
Lucy received an adult kidney from her father Chris (35) in November as part of complex surgery in London.
Experts at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust said it is the first time 3D printing has been used to support the successful transplantation of an adult kidney into a child.
After suffering heart failure as a baby, Lucy's kidneys began to shut down.
Models of Mr Boucher's kidney and Lucy's abdomen were produced using a 3D printer so that the surgeons from Guy's and St Thomas' and Great Ormond Street Hospital could accurately plan and rehearse the operation.
When Lucy was a baby she developed supraventricular tachycardia - an irregularly fast heartbeat - which resulted in her body, including her kidneys, being starved of oxygen.
After surgery to correct her heart problem, the youngster needed a new kidney. Her father, an assistant lay minister, stepped in.
Mr Boucher said: "My first reaction when I saw the 3D printout of my kidney was surprise at how big it was and I wondered how it could possibly fit into Lucy.
"Seeing the model of her abdomen and the way the kidney was going to be transplanted inside her gave me a clear understanding of exactly what was going to happen. It helped ease my concerns and it was hugely reassuring to know that the surgeons could carry out such detailed planning ahead of the operation."
Lucy's mother Ciara, a teacher, added: "We found it amazing that we could see these incredibly detailed models of Chris' kidney and Lucy's abdomen.
"Considering all the potential complications, it's fantastic that everything has gone so well - it's a massive relief. The transplant is life-changing for Lucy."
Mr Pankaj Chandak, a transplant registrar at Guy's and St Thomas' whose idea it was to use 3D printouts, said: "Our exciting new use of 3D printed models to help plan highly complex kidney transplant surgery in children brings all sorts of important advantages for our patients and the surgical team.
"The most important benefit is to patient safety. The 3D printed models allow informative, hands-on planning, ahead of the surgery with replicas that are the next best thing to the actual organs themselves.
"This means surgeons are better placed than before to prepare for the operation and to assess what surgical approach will offer the greatest chance of a safe and successful transplant."