Baylor Doctor 3D Prints Kidneys to Help Save Lives

On a shuttle bus at the Texas Medical Center in Houston, a medical challenge involving kidney surgeries was mentioned amongst colleagues, and the birth of a solution was born.

Dr. Jacques Zaneveld was traveling with a colleague from Baylor University Urology department when he was told about the complexity of removing kidney tumors during surgery and the lack of realistic preparation available to surgeons.

“There is no realistic way to practice the complex process of removing kidney tumors while sparing normal kidney function,” Dr. Friedrich-Carl Von Rundstedt told him. “Even with state-of-the-art facilities, urologic surgery trainees find this procedure difficult to master.”

Zaneveld, who had experimented with 3d printing before hearing this, set out to use the technology to create realistic replicas of patients kidneys, so that surgeons could practice the removal of tumors and minimize the risk of damaging the kidney during actual surgery.

“I was fascinated by 3D printers and I quickly realized their potential for use in healthcare, and specifically for training –  however, it took years to develop the technology to create realistic human anatomy models,” Zaneveld said.

There were plenty of failures at first, but last year Zaneveld finally found the right material to create kidney models that had the same texture and feel as the real kidneys surgeons operate on at hospitals.  After sending it to another doctor at Baylor for review, it became clear they had created an invaluable tool for surgeons around the world.

“It was the most realistic and versatile model for partial nephrectomy I had ever seen," Dr. Richard Link of Baylor said.

Zaneveld would go on to create Lazarus 3D, a company specializing in 3d printing for the medical field.

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