The world’s first completely synthetic organ successfully implanted…
Doctors in Sweden have become the first to implant a patient with a synthetic windpipe created using a replica of the man’s windpipe, and his own stem cells.
To create the organ, scientists from London took scans of the 36-year-old’s windpipe to develop a 3D model. They then used a spongy and flexible polymer with stiff rings encircling the tube to mimic the structure of a human trachea.
The organ was then soaked stem cells taken from the patient’s bone marrow and in just two days the cells were growing. Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, a professor at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, and the surgeon who carried out the procedure said:
“[The] stem cells from the own patient were growing inside and outside. This structure was becoming a living structure.”
On June 9th, doctors at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm implanted the synthetic organ. And now, one month on, the patient’s body has accepted the synthetic organ; he even has cough reflexes.
Prior to the operation the patient, an Eritrean who had been studying in Iceland, had undergone extensive treatment including chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. By the time doctors opted to try the new procedure, his tumor had almost blocked his windpipe.
Because no human donor was needed, the new method cut down a waiting period that can sometimes last for years, to just the 10-12 days it took to generate the synthetic organ. And in this case, as with many, the patient simply would not have survived long enough to find a suitable donor.
The procedure was not the first breakthrough surgery to come at the hands of Macchiarini. Three years ago, he successfully implanted an artificial trachea with donor tissue and stem cells. But this is the first time such an operation has been done without using human donor tissue.
He and other experts hop that the success of the procedure will lead to more artificial organs for future transplants.
The story was featured on BBC documentary that aired in Sweden, 14th July.