Right now, scientists are attempting to grow ears, kidneys, blood vessels, livers, even hearts. In fact, at the moment there are some people walking around with lab-grown bladders, but this is rare. In the U.S., over 80 percent of transplanted organs come from the deceased. The rest are donated by the living except for a small number that are grown in laboratories. However, this could all change fairly soon. In the not too distant future, you might have a spare heart, kidney or liver grown for you in a lab. Someday there could be warehouses full of new organs. So, how close are we to farming human body parts?
Last year, there were over thirty thousand of organ transplants in the United States! Which sounds like a lot, but the waiting list for organ donation is over hundred thousand. There just aren’t enough organs to go around! Well, growing organs and organ tissue comes down to our good friend, the stem cell. Stem cells are the basis of all the cells in our body.
At this very moment scientists are creating organs and body parts using 3D printers. They make a biocompatible plastic scaffold, stems cells are placed onto it, and then they pop that whole thing into an incubator that mimics the conditions of the human body.