First Successful Transplant of Trachea Made of Stem Cells

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A groundbreaking surgery gave a man back his trachea, and his life. He is the first person to undergo surgery with an organ made completely from his own cells.

Thirty-six-year-old Andemariam Beyene, originally from Eritrea, is a PhD student studying in Iceland.

Beyene needed a new trachea when a cancerous tumor near his windpipe grew to be almost two-and-a-half inches wide.

The tumor restricted his breathing and he did not respond to any treatments.

In 2009, he had a surgery to remove the cancerous tumor, but to no avail.

[Andamariam Beyene, Patient]:
"When I am sleeping I have to be good, straight. If I am bending the small part would be closed."

And without a trachea donor, his options were limited. Beyene's windpipe was expected to collapse within weeks of the surgery.

[Andamariam Beyene, Patient]:
"But this operation... They told me that this is the first in its kind. This is a synthetic organ. It has never been tried in a human being. I was scared. I was about to refuse."

Similar surgeries have used a trachea from a donor with stem cells of the patient grafted onto it.

This is the first time that a whole organ grown from stem cells has been successfully used in a human being.

[David Green, President of Harvard Bioscience]:
"So it's really part of him today. It's his tissue. It's his cells, and those have differentiated from the [original] bone-marrow cells to become all the different cell-types that make up the trachea. So it really is a living, breathing organ at this point."

Spanish surgeon Dr. Macchiarini collaborated with American and British scientists to create the synthetic windpipe.

Scientists at the University College of London created a replica of the windpipe using 3-D scans.

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