Could 3D Printed Organs Be Medicine Next Grisly Black Market

3D Printed Organs
Credit:Eduard Lysenko

Shortage of Organ Transplant – An International Crisis

Global shortage of human organs still tends to prevail in spite of the world’s successful transplant that had taken place more than sixty years ago. Around 49,000 people in the UK had suffered on the list of transplant in the past years with over 6,000 people comprising of children who had lost their life due to the waiting period.

Shortage of organs for transplant has been an international crisis and one which has created some shocking temporary resolutions. In 2007, after the disclosure of China’s state sponsored system of harvesting organs from prisoners, David Matas, human rights lawyer and activist David Kilgour had recently updated their incendiary report claiming that the practice tends to continue till date in spite of the claims to the contrary by the state.

The Mohan Foundation, an NGO in India, set up to extend awareness of the illegal organ trade, tends to receive regular enquiries from prospective donors who perceive a `spare’ kidney as their way out of poverty. Iran, the only country in the world with an official organ selling program has been a state-sanctioned flow of kidneys up the socio-economic ladder from the despairing and poor to the despairing and the rich.

Bioprinting – Use of Specialist 3D Printers

However for those reluctant in entering the black market as `transplant tourists’ there seems to be some hope in the form of printed organs together with medical devices. Bioprinting is the use of specialist 3D printers in creating cellular scaffolds wherein further cells can be grown, is being utilised in producing hearts, livers, and kidneys together with other kinds of human tissue in the laboratories.

Out-dated 3D printing is being utilised in creating prototypes of all things from wheelchairs to exoskeletons. As the medical printing technologies tend to be more universal and the barriers to entry tends to get lower, an accustomed question seems to prop up on how can weensure that criminals do not begin filling the gaps in the market with low-cost, low-quality knock-offs?

Dr Bertalan Mesko, medical futurist as well as author of My Health Upgraded: Revolutionary Technologies to Bring a Healthier Future informed Wired that `the issue will not be whether these technologies could solve medical issues or whether it is affordable or whether it is disruptive enough. The question is how the bad guys would find ways of using these technologies in an unsafe and unregulated manner.

Bioprinting Mainstream Practice – Access to Technology – Good Price

Mesko is said to be a self-described optimist on the medical printing topicand his anxiety is in the slow working of the present day medical regulatory bodies. Should a 3D printing technology be attained and are disseminated quickly, then the healthcare providers would be flooding the market with inexpensive and possibly incredible treatments.

 If they tend to come up in fits and starts, then the other welfareswould attempt to plug the gap. Mesko had mentioned that as usual, there seems to be illegal means of getting organs to those in need and when bioprinting becomes a mainstream practice in medicine, then the criminals would come up with their own solutions. If bioprinting becomes a mainstream system, then anyone could have access to the technology for a good price.

If one can print out an organ established on the stem cells of the patient in a short span of time, it would be a normal element of healthcare and there would be no reason to print organs in a criminal manner. Mesko admits that in the West where most of the people tend to have access to at least a comparatively comprehensive healthcare, the patients are less possible to take risks by seeking help from organised crime or black-market organs.

Printed Knock-offs of Medical Devices

He further stated that a more reasonable scenario is that printed knock-offs of medical devices especially would start to show up in poorer countries, in the same manner counterfeit drugs presently seems to be predominant but not exclusively a third world issue.

He also added that if one is in a wheelchair in the West, then they could turn to an insurance company in order to avail an exoskeleton, which is a robotic structure around the limbs that tend to assist you to walk again. However an exoskeleton is priced at around ten thousand dollars presently. The purpose why it is so, is that in order these devices need to be approved and to be safe and regulated.

 However there could be some criminal gangs who would utilise cheap 3D printer to print parts of the exoskeleton, creating something which could do almost the same functions though without it being regulated. Those who do not tend to have good insurance plan or have no access to these innovations in poorercountries could resort to turn to these criminals. They would want to walk again though would not be in a position to approve of the methods.

Imperfection Solution Better than Nothing

This would be a position for the bad guys. Printing medical devices beside human tissues tend be an enormous specialist procedure. In the near future, the technical obstacles would buy regulatory authorities time to choose what, how and when to make the best of these disruptive technologies accessible.

Nevertheless, Mesko states that unless these technologies are made reasonable and generally distributed they would not be disruptive sufficient. Criminal alternative would seem to look more interesting if patients from poorer countries tend to learn that there are treatments accessible somewhere else and those treatments are excessively expensive.

 Mesko informs that an imperfection solution could be better than nothing at all. However when it comes to one’s own health, you would not take the risk if you learn that there are some good inexpensive solutions available to the person. Currently the reason why some of the individuals seem to risk their lives with the illegal organ market is because they get it this way or they tend to die and that seems to be the perfect option.

The majority of the individuals would be able to gain access to these technologies from traditional healthcare methods if systematic frameworks are adequately quick. However for the rest, they could always resort to search for a solution.

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