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Stunning Recovery for First Child to Receive Stem-Cell Trachea Transplant

by | Jul 27, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Ciaran Finn-Lynch, 13, is the first child to undergo a trachea transplant with the organ grown from his own stem cells. He is doing well two years later.

The youngest individual ever to undergo a tracheal transplant fashioned out of stem cells taken from his own bone marrow is doing well two years later, according to a paper published Wednesday  in the journal “The Lancet.”

Ciaran Finn-Lynch, now 13,  “was born with a rare condition known as Long Segment Tracheal Stenosis, marked by a small windpipe that does not grow and can restrict breathing,” ABC News reported. Ciaran underwent the stem cell transplant in March 2010 after a standard trachea transplant had not worked.

The technique employed by researchers at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and the University College London, was ingenious.

First they stripped cells from a donor trachea (lower windpipe). They rebuilt the airways by using Ciaran’s own bone marrow stem cells combined with growth proteins to generate the tissue lining. Once the new trachea was implanted, “the researchers continued to infuse growth proteins into the organ to continue stem cell generation,” according to ABC News’ Lara Salahi. “This technique allowed for researchers to transplant the organ faster instead of having to wait for the organ to grow outside of the body.”

There are many advantages to issue stem cells taken from Ciaran’s own bone marrow. The most obvious is that it should avoid any chance his body will reject the new windpipe.

NRL News Today first reported about transplanted a trachea using adult stem in 2008. That year a Spanish woman, Claudia Castillo, underwent the operation to replace her windpipe after tuberculosis had left her with a collapsed lung and unable to breath.

Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, the head surgeon for Ciaran’s transplant, was also the head surgeon for Ms. Castillo, which was performed at the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona.

This success is a fitting conclusion for a young boy who almost died at birth. The day he was born Ciaran suffered a collapsed lung. “Six days later, Finn-Lynch underwent reconstructive surgery to his airways and remained in intensive care for the next four months,” the Medical Daily reported.

“Following the initial procedure Finn-Lynch would endure more surgeries, which caused airway bleeding. Finally, in March 2010 doctors performed the first child stem-celled trachea transplant.”

Ciaran is now breathing normally and he no longer has to rely on anti-rejection medication.

Categories: Adult Stem Cells