Surgeons at Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria have successfully implanted an artificial windpipe created by stem cells in a laboratory to save a child, reported The Boston Globe on May 1. Hannah Warren made history as the first child in the world to receive a lab-made windpipe created by harvested stem cells from her own body.
The two-year-old toddler from South Korea was born without a windpipe and has not been able to breathe, swallow, or consume food since birth; her surgeons now expect her to lead a normal life.
Out of a random act of kindness from Dr. Mark Holterman – a pediatric surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Illinois – his involvement made it possible to send young Warren and her family to the U.S., waiving all hospital costs; Holterman met the family while on a business trip at the hospital where the little girl had lived since birth.
The parents had heard about an Italian doctor, Dr. Paolo Macchiarini from the Karolinska Institute of Stockholm based in Sweden, who was successful in pioneering a technique using stem cells to create tracheas.
Since the family was never able to financially make the trip out to Dr. Paolo Macchiarini for their little girl, the surgeon from Sweden teamed up with Dr. Holterman at the Peoria Children’s Hospital to bio-engineer a new windpipe by harvesting the somatic stem cells from Hannah’s bone marrow via a needle inserted into her hip bone; within a week, a three inch new windpipe was formed in the lab.
The nine hour pioneering surgery to implant the artificial windpipe was performed on April 9 by the team of surgeons.
According to the Boston Globe, the doctors said, “The stem-cell technique has been used to make other body parts and holds promise for treating other birth defects and childhood diseases.
What are your thoughts if organs could finally be lab-made from this pioneer technique for those desperately in need of organ transplants?
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