Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Canadian - Korean child given a windpipe made from her own stem cells

[Update - Below, Kushibo links to a site for raising money for the girl's care.]

Here's a more upbeat story about a foreign English teacher than a lot of the stuff I've been posting recently:
A 2-year-old girl born without a windpipe now has a new one grown from her own stem cells, the youngest patient in the world to benefit from the experimental treatment.

Canadian-South Korean Hannah Warren has been unable to breathe, eat, drink or swallow on her own since she was born in South Korea in 2010. Until the operation at a central Illinois hospital, she had spent her entire life in a hospital in Seoul. Doctors there told her parents there was no hope and they expected her to die.

The stem cells came from Hannah’s bone marrow, extracted with a special needle inserted into her hip bone. They were seeded in a lab onto a plastic scaffold, where it took less than a week for them to multiply and create a new windpipe.

About the size of a 3-inch tube of penne pasta, it was implanted April 9 in a nine-hour procedure.[...]

Only about one in 50,000 children worldwide are born with the same defect. The stem-cell technique has been used to make other body parts besides windpipes and holds promise for treating other birth defects and childhood diseases, her doctors said.

The operation brought together an Italian surgeon based in Sweden who pioneered the technique, a pediatric surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria who met Hannah’s family while on a business trip to South Korea, and Hannah — born to a Newfoundland man and Korean woman who married after he moved to that country to teach English.

Hannah’s parents had read about Dr. Paolo Macchiarini’s success using stem-cell based tracheas but couldn’t afford to pay for the operation at his centre, the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. So Dr. Mark Holterman helped the family arrange to have the procedure at his Peoria hospital, bringing in Macchiarini to lead the operation. Children’s Hospital waived the cost, likely hundreds of thousands of dollars, Holterman said.
There's more background on this story here. She seems like quite the little trouper in the photos in the articles (or these ones), and what science has been able to accomplish in this case is pretty amazing.


kushibo said...

One of my commenters mentioned that MBC had done a two-part documentary on her, I think airing the last two Mondays. He didn't provide a link.

kushibo said...

That link includes a site for raising money for the girl's care.