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Wired UK recently reported that a group of researchers predicted that 3d printed hearts will be possible by about 2023. A 3d printer that could produce a heart would be a potentially lucrative market for any medical equipment firm who can produce such a device in quantity.
Heart transplants have been around since 1967 when the first procedure of its kind was performed by Dr. Christian Barnard in South Africa. Other researchers such as Dr. Michael Debakey and Dr. Denton Cooley refined the procedure.
According to Infoplease around 2,000 heart transplants, more or less, are performed in the United States annually. But, as the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute points out, around 3,000 Americans are on heart transplant waiting lists at any one time. Donor hearts have to be compatible, be from a donor younger than 65 years old who has not had any kind of disease such as hepatitis or HIV.
The ability to 3D print a human heart would change all of that. Instead of waiting anxiously for a donor heart to become available, a patient would have his own heart grown and printed from his own stem cells. The wait time would only consist of how long it would take to print out a viable heart before it can be implanted. As a bonus, since the new heart is genetically identical to the old one, the need for powerful anti-rejection drugs will be eliminated.
The 3D Printing Business Opportunities are rather obvious. Once the technology is refined and printed hearts are seen in a clinical setting, every hospital on the planet will want to have the ability to print out hearts. Heart transplants, once limited by the number of available donor hearts, will become more common. And it should be finally noted that human hearts will be just one organ that eventually be custom made.