Northern Ireland

Kidney transplant: Antrim parents' gratitude after innovative surgery aided by 3D printing

Media captionThe organ was donated by Lucy Boucher's father

The parents of a three-year-old toddler who underwent an innovative kidney transplant that involved 3D printing have said they are "very fortunate".

Chris and Ciara Boucher, from Antrim, told the Victoria Derbyshire Show that their daughter Lucy was taken care of by "brilliant medical teams".

Lucy had a successful kidney transplant last November. The kidney was donated by her father.

3D replicas of Lucy's abdomen and Chris' kidney were made before surgery.

The printed models helped surgeons at Guys and St Thomas' Hospital plan how to put an adult-sized kidney into the body of a toddler.

Image copyright Chris Boucher
Image caption Lucy Boucher underwent a successful kidney transplant in November 2015

Lucy suffered heart failure at four weeks old. Her kidneys subsequently failed after being starved of oxygen.

She was put on kidney dialysis until she was old enough to go through with a transplant.

Media captionThe parents of a three-year-old toddler who underwent an innovative kidney transplant that involved 3D printing praise the "brilliant medical teams" who helped their daughter.

"There have been lots of ups and downs along the way," said Mrs Boucher. "The day that she took ill we were told when we were leaving our local hospital to say goodbye to her because she may not make the journey to Belfast.

Image copyright Chris Boucher
Image caption Lucy suffered heart failure at four weeks old - the condition caused her kidneys to also fail

"Thankfully for us, we have had brilliant medical teams in five different hospitals who have worked with her and got her to where she is today."

The transplant surgeon, Pankaj Chandak, said that the 3D models added an "additional layer of safety" for a complex type of surgery.

Image copyright Chris Boucher
Image caption Lucy spent two years on kidney dialysis before the transplant

"So essentially, this [the 3D models] helps us with particularly planning that approach, but thinking about the incision, how to approach the vessels and the best lie of the kidney inside the abdomen."

Mr Boucher said he was "astounded" to see a 3D printout of his own kidney and that it helped underline the complexity of the surgery.

Image copyright Guys and St Thomas' Hospital
Image caption Transplant surgeon Pankaj Chandak said the models gave an 'additional layer of safety'

"It was phenomenal to see it and then to just hold it over Lucy's abdomen - you just think: 'How on earth can they fit that into this abdomen?'

"Again, it just highlighted even more how impressive what they do is."

Mr and Mrs Boucher said that Lucy is now an active and healthy young girl thanks to to the help of doctors and nurses over the past two years.

Image copyright Chris Boucher
Image caption Chris and Ciara Boucher said they were 'so grateful' to the medical teams who helped Lucy

"She's so happy," said Mr Boucher. "She's smiled right through it and that's because of the nurses and the staff and the way they've been with her.

"She gets excited when she's going into hospital even when she's going into to get blood tests which she hates.

"She walks out with a smile on her face and we really are so grateful."