A team of surgeons in Sweden have carried out the world’s first synthetic organ transplant, providing a cancer patient with a new windpipe using his own stem cells.
The transplant is a truly European triumph. The windpipe was grown in a lab by scientists in the UK and coated in stem cells from the 36-year-old cancer patient, with the transplant occurring in Sweden, while the surgery itself was led by Professor Paolo Macchiarini from Italy.
The surgery is a breakthrough in medical science as it is the first organ transplant in history to be performed without the use of a donor.
Crucially, the patient will also not need to take the anti-rejection medication that other transplant patients need. This is because the synthetic windpipe was coated with stem cells from his bone marrow, so that his body will recognize the new organ as a part of the body and not a foreign entity.
In the months following the operation, cells taken from the bone marrow and nose will divide and grow within the windpipe, completing the procedure by turning the synthetic trachea into a fully-fledged organ operating as part of the body.
Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene, a geology student studying in Iceland, but of African origin, is said to be doing well and is able to pursue his PhD once more.
Professor Macchiarini is now looking into helping a young Korean girl who was born with a malformed trachea.
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