Plans for 3D heart modelling machine move closer

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Plans to buy a machine that will allow surgeons in Hampshire to create 3D models of patients’ hearts have taken a step forward this week.

The Murray Parish Trust has donated close to £6,000 towards Wessex Heartbeat’s appeal to raise enough for a 3D cardiac printer to be situated at the Wessex Cardiac Centre in Southampton General Hospital.

The pioneering equipment allows surgeons to print an accurate 3D model of their patient’s heart before surgery and is particularly useful for children and babies with cardiac problems.

The printer, plus the specialist software and training will cost £120,000, but the latest donation from The Murray Parish Trust brings Wessex Heartbeat’s current total to nearly £40,000.

John Munro, chief executive at Wessex Heartbeat, said:

‘We are so grateful to The Murray Parish Trust for this very important donation. This equipment will make a huge difference to people – particularly children and babies – being treated for serious heart conditions in the area.’

Sarah Parish, co-founder of The Murray Parish Trust, added:

‘We’ve known Wessex Hearbeat for many years and have always appreciated the important work it does supporting the Wessex Cardiac Centre. It’s helped to make Southampton one of the top cities in the UK for cardiac care. We’re delighted to support the charity with its new appeal to fund a 3D cardiac printer.’

The current procedure in getting a 3D printed heart is both convoluted and extremely expensive; although innovative and often successful.

Currently, the facility that convert these scanned blueprints into identical model hearts, are based in Belgium. This means that doctors are required to send the scans over to this specialist company, to get the heart printed.

This costs £1,500 per case, and normally takes at least 15 days from fruition to delivery. In addition, the surgeon will only receive one replica per scan, meaning that extreme care must be taken when working with them.

To combat these issues of inefficiency and running cost, Wessex Heartbeat plans on funding the UK’s first specialist 3D cardiac printer to be situated at the Wessex Cardiac Centre in Southampton General Hospital.