Published: 30-04-2013 00:00 | Updated: 09-02-2016 07:15

First child in the world to receive tissue-engineered bioartificial trachea

FOOTNOTE. After publication the conditions have changed. We have decided to keep this news article at our website as it is vital that our historic actions are transparent to the public. The researcher and medical doctor Paolo Macchiarini has been and is subject to internal and external investigations as well as scrutiny from the media. Read KI's latest comment regarding Paolo Macchiarini.

In a pioneering, first of its kind in the world operation, an international team of surgeons at Children's Hospital of Illinois created and transplanted a windpipe into a 32-month-old toddler born with a rare, fatal, congenital abnormality in which her trachea failed to develop.

During the operation, the surgical team implanted a tissue engineered stem cell based artificial windpipe in a child, who had spent her entire life living in a neonatal intensive care unit in a hospital in Seoul, South Korea. Unable to breathe, talk, swallow, eat or drink on her own since birth, she would have died without a trachea transplant.

It is the first time a child has received a tissue-engineered, bioartificial trachea, which was made using non-absorbable nanofibers and stem cells from her own bone marrow. Because no donor organ was used, the remarkable procedure virtually eliminates the chance of her immune system rejecting the transplant.

"The ultimate potential of this stem-cell based therapy is to avoid human donation and life-long immune suppression and to be able to replace complex tissues, and sooner or later, whole organs, with totally artificial lab-made scaffolds and autologous stem cells. We are crossing frontiers with these transplants", said Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, visiting professor of regenerative surgery at Karolinska Institutet, and lead surgeon in the case.

"This child's case is a great example of how the international community can work together to save a child's life", said Dr. Mark Holterman, professor of surgery and pediatrics at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and co-surgeon of the case.