Toddler Receives Synthetic Trachea

A 2-year-old who was born without a trachea has received a synthetic replacement seeded with her own stem cells, the Karolinska Institute announced today. The operation, which took place in Peoria, Illinois, on 9 April, is the first time that the technique has been used in the United States. The New York Times reports that the recipient, Hannah Warren, has had a few complications related to the surgery but is recovering well.

Paolo Macchiarini of the Karolinska Institute, who led the surgery, transplanted the first stem-cell seeded trachea 5 years ago into a patient in Barcelona. Since then, more than a dozen patients have received similar bioengineered trachea transplants. But some observers worry that not enough is known about what happens to the transplants over the long term. For more on the technique and the researchers who pioneered it, see the story in the 19 April issue of Science.