A three-year-old girl from Northern Ireland has become the first in the world to receive a kidney transplant using 3D printing technology.

Lucy Boucher, from Antrim in Northern Ireland, suffered heart failure as a baby when she developed supraventricular tachycardia, causing her heart to beat irregularly faster than normal.

Lucy experienced kidney failure and was looking at a lifetime of dialysis treatment.

On November 24, experts at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and Great Ormond Street Hospital performed a transplant using a kidney donated by her father, Chris Boucher.

Models of Lucy’s abdomen and her father’s kidney were created using Guy’s and St Thomas’ 3D printer so that the surgeons could accurately plan and rehearse the complex operation and minimize the risks.

Lucy’s father Chris, an assistant lay minister said: “When I first saw the models I was taken aback by the level of detail that’s in them. It really helped me get an idea in my head of what was going to happen, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

"My first reaction when I saw the 3D printout of my kidney was surprise at how big it was and I wondered how it could possibly fit into Lucy.

“Seeing the model of her abdomen and the way the kidney was going to be transplanted inside her gave me a clear understanding of exactly what was going to happen. It helped ease my concerns and it was hugely reassuring to know that the surgeons could carry out such detailed planning ahead of the operation.”

According to the Belfast Telegraph, measurements obtained through CT and MRI scans were used by the 3D printer to produce a model of liquid plastic, which was molded under ultraviolet light to replicate the body parts’ size and density.

The surgery at Great Ormond Street lasted four hours and was a success.

“We found it amazing that we could see these incredibly detailed models of Chris’ kidney and Lucy’s abdomen,” said Lucy’s mother Ciara, a teacher.

“Considering all the potential complications it’s fantastic that everything has gone so well – it’s a massive relief. The transplant is life-changing for Lucy.”

Lucy, who had been receiving dialysis treatment three times a week, will now be able to attend nursery school next year.

Mr Pankaj Chandak, a transplant registrar at Guy’s and St Thomas’ whose idea it was to use 3D printouts, said: “Our exciting new use of 3D printed models to help plan highly complex kidney transplant surgery in children brings all sorts of important advantages for our patients and the surgical team.

“The most important benefit is to patient safety. The 3D printed models allow informative, hands-on planning, ahead of the surgery with replicas that are the next best thing to the actual organs themselves.

"This means surgeons are better placed than before to prepare for the operation and to assess what surgical approach will offer the greatest chance of a safe and successful transplant.”

Three-year-old Lucy Boucher is doing well after a kidney transplant.Telegraph