As of April 2018, the U.S. organ transplant waiting list was about 114,000 names long, while less than 35,000 transplants were performed in 2017. Overall, about one third of the total demand is being met, and when that happens, people often resort to illegal means to secure organs. As a result, 5-10% of all organ transplants performed worldwide each year are illegal. This black market generates between $600 million and $1.2 billion per year and sometimes at the expense of innocent – and often healthy – people having organs stolen out of their bodies. The recipients of these stolen organs can often fare just as poorly since as the operations generally aren’t performed at medical-grade facilities, and the surgeons may ignore the concept of organ rejection, meaning that they may give a “patient” an organ that doesn’t match and is rejected by the recipient’s body. Trafficking and transplanting illegal organs is bad for everybody.
At BIOLIFE4D, we’re working to 3D bioprint human organs viable for transplant from patients’ own cells, starting with the heart – and we’re well ahead of our initial projections. Once we’ve successfully 3D bioprinted a heart for transplant we plan to leverage our technology to other organs which will increase the supply of available legal organs for transplant. Fortunately, that could also reduce the need for organ theft and illegal transplant.
In addition to our technology’s life-saving potential, there’s also the potential to reduce criminal activity in illegal organ harvesting and trafficking. Thinking about it this way, our technology’s life-saving potential may be even greater than we thought. With each 3D bioprinted human organ, we may be able to not only save the life of the recipient but also the life of someone who would otherwise have organs stolen from their body. It is difficult to quantify exactly how many people this may help, because information about organ theft is so difficult to ascertain, but it’s estimated that thousands of illegal organs are transplanted annually.
This is just one more reason why BIOLIFE4D represents a responsible and socially conscious investment opportunity. Many investors choose to include socially responsible investments in their portfolios, and we believe BIOLIFE4D is an excellent example of a company with the potential to not only have a huge financial win, but just as importantly the opportunity to save countless lives.