Williams and his colleagues have successfully "printed" and implanted parts of hearts in mice as part of their heart-printing research. Nearby at the University of Kentucky, scientists have used the technology to grow ulna bones in rabbits and make anatomical models for teaching and surgery planning.
Eventually, scientists across the globe hope that printing tissues and organs from patients' cells can mitigate the danger of rejection, as well as the persistent shortage of transplant organs. Williams said a total bioficial heart could cost about $100,000 in today's dollars, on top of roughly $150,000 in hospital and surgery costs—less than the typical heart transplant.
Still, Williams faces some daunting challenges before he achieves the feat, such as replicating the complexity of blood vessels. However, he says he's not discouraged when his friends laugh at his 10-year plan. "I love it when they laugh. It provides me with a challenge," he says.
On the blogs
- At the Margins: The Financial Leadership Council's Sarah Gabriel explains how to make affordable financing a win-win for patients and hospitals.
- Practice Notes: The Medical Group Strategy Council's Tiffany Chan outlines three steps to overcome state regulations obstructing effective nurse practitioner utilization.
- Practice Notes: Chan explains recent trends in assigning advanced practitioners their own panels.