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Surprising Science

First Synthetic Organ Transplant

An international team of surgeons has successfully carried out the world’s first transplant of a synthetic organ. In Sweden, a patient received a new windpipe made from his own stem cells.

What’s the Latest Development?

“On June 9, a 36-year-old man suffering from late stage tracheal cancer, received a new trachea, or windpipe, made from a synthetic scaffold and covered with his own stem cells, the Karolinska University Hospital in the Stockholm suburb of Huddinge said in a statement. … The synthetic trachea had been used as a last possible option, according to the team, since the man’s tumour had despite radiation treatment grown so large it was threatening to block his entire windpipe and there was no suitable donor available.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The so-called regenerative medical procedure could revolutionize the field of trachea transplants, making them far more accessible. “‘Transplantations of tissue-engineered windpipes with synthetic scaffolds in combination with the patient’s own stem cells as a standard procedure means that patients will not have to wait for a suitable donor organ,’ said a press release from the Swedish hospital. This would be especially beneficial to children, ‘since the availability of donor tracheas is much lower than for adult patients.'”


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