Two years ago, Anthony Atala took to the stage at TED and showed the world that human organs could be 3D printed. Now, a team from eastern China has successfully printed a series of living kidneys. This is a huge step forward in the quest for 3D printed replacement organs.
While Atala's original 3D printed kidneys were made with a bio-ink that perfectly replicated kidney tissue. The problem was that these tissues were not vital (living). Without the ability to create living organs, 3D printed transplants would remain impossible. That's why this new breakthrough is so important.
There are still hurdles to clear before these organs will be fit for transplant. Living though they are, the current batch of 3D printed kidneys only have a lifespan of four months. That's hardly a permanent solution for kidney failure. Check out the video below to learn more about how far we've come with 3D printed organs, as well as how far we still have to go.