The wait for a life-saving heart transplant could be years long.
The amount of donors is far less than the number of people waiting for a transplant.
However, scientists are working hard to create new and faster ways to save lives, this time by creating a 3D printed heart using existing tissue.
One group of scientists from Tel Aviv University has taken cardiac tissue engineering to the next level, by managing to artificially replicate human tissue.
"This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles, and chambers," Lead researcher Prof. Tal Dvir said.
The scientists first took a biopsy of fatty tissue from the patient; then, they separated cellular material from noncellular material, Medical News Today reports.
Then they reprogrammed the cells of the fatty tissue to become pluripotent stem cells, which can develop into the range of cell types necessary to grow a heart.
A few more scientific and complicated steps were carried out after that and then voila!
"This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials. In our process these materials serve as the bioinks, substances made of sugars and proteins that can be used for 3D printing of complex tissue models," Prof. Dvir said. "People have managed to 3D-print the structure of a heart in the past, but not with cells or with blood vessels. Our results demonstrate the potential of our approach for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future."
While the heart is around the size of a rabbit's heart, it is still anatomically precise, complete with blood vessels and cells.