One day University of Central Florida researchers hope to use a bio printer to create a simulated heart that can be placed inside a human body and save lives.
But right now, they’re working to print exact 3D replicas of children’s hearts – to help doctors study the heart they’re about to operate on when preparing for surgery.
“We just got our funding for it, which is really exciting,” said UCF junior Jessica Hellein, who gave News 6 a demonstration of the 3D printing technology.
The UCF team is working with Orlando Health pediatric heart surgeon Dr. William DeCampli, who’s excited about the cutting edge technology.
“It will provide for more accurate operations and faster operations and that's going to be good for kids,” DeCampli told News 6.
The 3D replicas specific to each patient will replace a generic model currently used, and will help doctors explain what will happen in surgery to patients.
“And when I take it apart, I will be able to tell them for example, this is an abnormal hole between two chambers of your heart,” DeCampli said.
UCF and Orlando Health are among the first in the country to partner on this cutting edge technology. But as impressive as it is, Dr. DeCampli is not surprised.
“None of this surprises me,” DeCampli said, reminiscing on how he and his classmates at MIT were talking futuristically about something like this during his undergraduate years.
“That's what it takes – innovative thought and awareness of developing technology to put it together and make it work,” Dr. DeCampli said.
So will we one day be able to print a simulated heart, to place inside a human body?
I don’t put it past us to reach that point, even in my lifetime,” Dr. DeCampli said.
Dr. Dinender Dingla, a UCF researcher, is already thinking about printing a simulated, working heart – in animals, at first.
“So you've started research on that?” asked News 6 anchor Julie Broughton.
“That is correct,” Dr. Dingla said. “We already started.”