Jun 4, 2016 | By Tess

Noel Fitzpatrick, perhaps better known as The Supervet from Channel 4’s eponymous show, has been a big proponent for using 3D printing technologies to help improve the lives of animals. As we’ve seen, the UK based veterinarian surgeon has performed a number of miraculous surgeries on people’s cats and dogs with the help of 3D printed implants and prosthetics. Now, the celebrity veterinarian is reaching beyond the field of animal care and is urging doctors and the UK healthcare system to allow for more freedom with 3D printed treatments for humans.

Recently, Fitzpatrick even issued a warning saying that how things are now, animals are receiving better prosthetics than humans are because of the ability to use innovative and state-of-the-art 3D printed implants for our furry friends. The vet, who has successfully implanted a number of custom designed and fitted prosthetics into animals whose chances seemed slim, believes that the technology for human prosthetics should not be treated as wholly different.

In a talk he gave at The Hay Literary Festival, Fitzpatrick explained, “I get dozens of letters from humans asking me to operate on them. We have the ability to make custom implants. We can print in three dimensions and mechanical and biological scaffold right now which you can’t use in a human.”

To help open a discourse between human and animal medical treatments, Fitzpatrick has founded The Humanimal Trust, which has been set up in the United Kingdom to promote the benefits of simultaneously advancing human and animal healthcare. With it, he hopes that he will be able to sway the public, and the medical and veterinary medical establishments. Once they are convinced, he is confident changes in government policy will follow.

The doctor emphasized his point by saying, “There is not one person running in the Paralympics this year running on an osteo-intergrated prosthesis and I guarantee you that will not be the case in 20-years-time. We could do that tomorrow if we could get enough surgeons and the MHRA in the same room with me we could make that happen tomorrow. There is nothing more valuable than hearing the penny drop when a group of surgeons realise that you’ve got more advanced technology than they have. You can push the boundaries much more with a dog.”

The technologically innovative vet made headlines earlier this year by stating that there was a moral responsibility in choosing to keep your pet alive. As he explained, when he treats animals he will only do so if they have the potential for a high quality of life after the treatment, and that sometimes amputation or euthanasia are the better options. Of course, this may be a difficult pill to swallow for pet owners, but Fitzpatrick suggests that it can sometimes be quite selfish to keep a pet alive when it is suffering.

Despite the moral decision involved in treating pets, there is no denying that Fitzpatrick’s own pioneering methods and 3D printed treatments have marked a significant advancement in veterinary operations. Whether they will impact and be integrated into human medical procedures remains to be seen, but as 3D printing becomes increasingly viable in healthcare industries around the world, we have little doubt it will become a staple technology in the creation of implants and prosthetics both for animals and people.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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