Veterans awaiting lung transplants someday could continue to breathe with the assistance of artificial lungs that were produced using three-dimensional printers. Researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor (Mich.) Health Care System are in the early stages of the 3-D-printed lung’s development. Once the process is perfected, they say the lungs could serve as bridges for those awaiting transplant surgery, or recovering from other lung ailments.
The procedure could be a boon for veterans suffering from service-connected exposure to burn pits, fuel fumes or sand, or who have lung ailments associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI). The lungs also could help patients beset with chronic pulmonary lung disease — which VA identifies as one of the most prevalent and costly ailments its health-care providers must treat.