Dr. Paolo Macchiarini and his team performed a windpipe transplant surgery at Children’s Hospital of Illinois on a 2 ½ year-old-girl born without a windpipe – a rare condition that is 99% fatal. Dr. Macchiarini grew the windpipe using a scaffold and the patient’s own stem cells. Hannah is the youngest person to ever receive a bioengineered organ. Dr. Macchiarini, who developed the pioneering treatment and has performed the surgery several times, said the treatment made him realize that the approach to building organs may work best with children by harnessing their natural ability to grow and heal.
Researchers all around the world are working towards utilizing stem cells to grow replacement organs. While once thought to be a futuristic concept, it is now very real. Doctors and researchers have successfully transplanted lab grown bladders, blood vessels, tear ducts, arteries and windpipes. Now, research teams around the world are growing urethras, bile ducts, larynxes, bones, livers, kidneys, and even hearts.