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First successful Synthetic Windpipe Transplant surgery conducted

Posted by on 07/07/2011


A new medical milestone occurred today after Professor Paolo Macchiarini successfully performed the first synthetic windpipe transplant, giving a 36 year-old patient a second chance at breathing naturally.

The synthetic scaffold was first seeded with the patient’s own stem cells and then transplanted on June 9th at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. The nanocomposite tracheal scaffold was first built by Professor Alexander Seifalian from University College London, and then seeded with the patient’s stem cells in a bioreactor built by Harvard Bioscience. The process of seeding took two days, and they did this so the trachea would not be rejected by the patient’s body since the cells present on the windpipe were the same from his body. He was given a clean bill of health and is set to be discharged tomorrow.

The scientists were able to develop the windpipe by first rendering 3D scans of the patient’s trachea and two main bronchi. They then created a glass replica of the scanned organs, which was then flown from Iceland to Sweden, where it was soaked in a solution of stem cells taken from the patient. The porous glass eventually absorbed the stem cells, thus completing the seeding process and making the artificial organ ready for transplant.

The 36 year-old had been suffering from late stage tracheal cancer and all other options including chemo-therapy proved futile. Since there were no donor windpipes available, Professor Tomas Gudbjartsson from Landspitali University Hospital recommended that the patient take the last-case scenario and opt for the artificial windpipe. This breakthrough sets the stage for an easier way of stopping cancer in the throat, especially for children, since donor windpipes are hard to come by. Below you can see photos of the artificial organ.



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