Publish Date: 
Monday, June 7, 2021 - 11:15

ACCISS develops 3D-printed kidney model education tool

The TRI-based Australian Centre for Complex Integrated Surgical Solutions (ACCISS) has developed a 3D-printed kidney model, which Is an effective hands-on education tool to inform Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients about kidney transplants.

Kidney disease is a major health issue in these communities, approximately 95% of chronic kidney disease patients at North West Hospital and Health Service in Mount Isa are of Indigenous heritage.

Whilst geographical location, lack of funding and limited resources play a role in this dilemma, Gary Torrens, Outreach Renal Transplant Workshop Coordinator for First Nations People of Queensland, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Princess Alexandra Hospital, and a Bundjalung man, has identified that a lack of education is a major roadblock to increasing transplant rates.

Funded by the National Indigenous Kidney Transplant Taskforce, Gary is travelling to remote communities aiming to increase awareness of kidney disease and educate communities about kidney function through use of a 3D-printed model.

 ‘I approached ACCISS for a kidney model that I could travel with and take to yarning sessions as not only is it a great way to explain surgery, kidney location and transplant location but the communities don’t respond to virtual meetings. They prefer face to face where they can meet you and get a feel for who you are,’ Gary said.

To date, the models have travelled to communities in Townsville and Mount Isa, resulting in a successful transplant as well as six patients actively awaiting a match.

‘The community was really happy with the way we approached them, it worked. Having the kidney model there was a really integral part of that. It kept it simple and was something tactile that they can touch.’

Through the use of the model as an educational tool, Gary hopes to reduce the numbers that rely on dialysis.  A single patient who receives dialysis treatment costs the Government $80,000.00 per year in medical expenses, however with early intervention and the help of ACCISS the cost could be dramatically reduced.

‘Transplant cost is roughly the same in the first year, however the cost becomes almost nothing in the following years and a patient will get approximately 13 to 14 years out of their transplant.”

Six replicas of the kidney model have now been commissioned by the National Indigenous Kidney Transplant Taskforce to further help educate patients around Australia.

Gary is also looking to develop other models in conjunction with ACCISS, such as one of a fistula used in dialysis. He hopes this will help to increase patients’ understanding of the processes surrounding treatment of kidney disease and encourage better early intervention and primary care.

For more information on ACCISS, visit their webpage or LinkedIn page.