In the future, doctors may be able to 3-D print functional human organs at a moment’s notice for those in need of transplants. For now, that’s not quite possible–but we may not be far off. The video above shows researchers from China’s Huazhong University of Science and Technology, led by head researcher Xu Mingen. They are the world’s first to 3-D print transplantable, living human kidneys.
The printed kidneys are only a fraction of the size of normal human kidneys, which are about the size of a fist, but about 90% of their cells are alive. The miniature organs are capable of removing waste and secreting fluids just the way normal kidneys can.
The idea of 3-D printed organs has been around for some time–it made waves at the 2011 TED conference, when surgeon Anthony Atala discussed the idea of printing a kidney and introduced a young patient who had received an artificial bladder engineered using similar technology. We’ve also seen functional human liver tissue developed by the firm Organovo.