A New York company called 3DBio Therapeutics performed a feat of tissue engineering that sounds like something out of a science fiction novel. They printed an ear using a woman’s cells, then successfully transplanted it onto her, replacing the misshapen left ear she was born with.
Scientists hope the transplant, grown from her own cells, has a lower risk of rejection. After the surgery, the ear “will continue to regenerate cartilage tissue, giving it the look and feel of a natural ear.”
The 3D printed transplant comes on the heels of another tissue engineering milestone earlier in 2022: a man received a genetically modified pig heart and lived for two months.
Turning this into a story, what if there’s a future where people can 3D print their own organs or limbs and have them surgically attached?
The story centers on a surgeon who goes around the slums of a dystopian Los Angeles, setting up organ growth labs and coming back later to “install” them. He’s known for having the loosest morals, willing to do anything for money.
To him, however, he’s helping the less fortunate access a procedure previously unavailable to the masses.
The problem at the beginning of the story: he discovers one of his patients is an android, although they don’t know it. He carries through with the ear transplant knowing that there’s no risk of the body rejecting the transplant because the person isn’t an organic human.
From then on, he becomes obsessed with uncovering how many androids live among him in the city.
In addition to his clandestine surgeries, the surgeon begins following a trail of androids by tracing his patient’s birth to a defunct company. He discovers that the defunct company was bought by the leading industrialist in the city, and the surgeon gets visited by a pair of enforcers who beat him up and tell him to stop poking around.
Because of his addiction to the mystery and his job, the surgeon begins losing sleep and begins hallucinating. He starts second-guessing whether his patient was an android and eventually contacts them again to double-check.
During their meeting, he plays around with the idea of murdering the patient so he can find out if they really are an android. But instead, he leaves and goes to another surgery that he botches because of his distress.
The family of the botched surgery victim attacks the surgeon, leaving him injured. He wakes up in the hospital and sees his medical records, finding out that he was born at the same place as the discovered android, and he’s left wondering if he’s even human.