One organ donor can save eight lives. Yet, the number of organ donors is not sufficient to supply hospitals with what they require for every patient on a transplant list. Why is this the case? Because only 52% of the nation is enrolled to donate organs, while there are 120,000 people in the US waiting for a transplant, not to mention the fact that every 10 minutes, another name is added to the transplant list. The 3D printer remedies these problems. The first 3D printer was made in 1986 by Charles Hull. The printer works by creating objects in slices. Filament is used and liquified, similar to a hot glue gun, which is then placed in layers by the machine. The machine intricately layers the plastic in order to allow for movement once the object is made. Originally, 3D printers were used to manufacture everyday appliances such as forks and spoons. This slowly developed into creating larger items like a guitar, a gun, or a camera, and eventually biological parts. Although currently only body parts such as ears, skin, or a trachea can be created, scientists are attempting to create organs out of the patients’ own cells therefore automatically creating an organ that matches the patient. Since organ rejection is likely, creating an organ out of the patient’s cells will lead to a higher success rate and no wasted organs.
In the medical world, 3D printing is referred to as bioprinting. Bioprinting is not only helping save the lives of thousands of people but will be creating more jobs as well. Once an organ is made, it will need to be assessed before placed into the patient. Nurses and doctors are extremely busy people who must monitor their patients, so they will need an organ assessor. The assessor will evaluate the organ by asking questions like “Is the organ working?” or “Does it have any defects?”. After these questions are addressed, the assessor will further evaluate it by their standards. More specifically, the assessor will run tests to determine the functionality of the organ. Furthermore, the 3D printer has the potential not only to create organs but also dental crowns or prosthetics. A 3D printer will not be easy to work with, therefore each dentist or orthopedic office will require a technician who can operate it at all times. This adds to the number of jobs that can be produced as a result of the introduction of 3D printers to the medical field.
Not only will bioprinting create new jobs but it will also open up positions in current ones. 3D printing is projected to be a seven billion dollar industry by 2025, with nearly half of the profits coming from the bioprinting industry. The industry has a large projected growth percentage making room for more jobs. Positions for engineering, 3D designing, and modeling machinery will rise. Organ assessors will need to have a strong background in technology and science to better understand the limitations and requirements that a bioprinting machine must have in order to function correctly.
We are still a long way from creating a living and working organ that can be used in a person’s body, but as doctors have successfully created limbs for amputees, organs are only a few steps away. Once this is done, the position of an organ assessor will open up. Maybe this will be the job for you!
Amy is currently a senior attending La Jolla High School. Ever since the fourth grade, the mysteries of the human body have interested her, which is why her favorite classes throughout her 12 years of school have been biology and psychology. Although her interests lie in the sciences, her inspiration for writing about a 3D printer actually came from a computer science class where she first learned about the way it functions and the wide array of things it could produce. At school she is Secretary of Circle of Friends, a club aimed at including students with disabilities and creating friendships by accepting that everyone has differences. Outside of the realm of academics, she has dedicated most of her time to volunteering at Sharp Memorial Hospital. She has also had the opportunity to intern with an allergy doctor and at a neurology lab at UCSD which helped further her desire in pursuing a degree in the medical field. At home, she loves to cook. She is her mom’s sous-chef every night, helping cook traditional Vietnamese dinners for the rest of the family to enjoy. Her hobbies include dancing and track and field, as she was on a hip hop team and ran track for three years.
“Facts About Organ Donation.” New York Organ Donor Network,