Peoria Public Radio News
12:45 pm
Tue April 30, 2013

CHOI transplants stem cell-based artifical windpipe

A local hospital is in the national spotlight after it was able to transplant a tissue-engineered bio-artificial trachea into a two-year old child. The Children’s Hospital of Illinois at OSF Saint Francis announced Tuesday it successfully implanted a windpipe in Hanna Warren of South Korea that was made from non-absorbable nano-fibers and her own stem cells.

The toddler was born without a windpipe and has been unable to breathe, eat, drink or swallow on her own since she was born in 2010. Dr. Richard Pearl is the Director of Pediatric Trauma and Surgeon in Chief at the Children’s Hospital. He was also part of Hanna’s transplant team.

"I think this is the future. We're going to stop taking organs from cadavers and people, and engineer organs with these kinds of constructs and people's own stem cells, and make an organ, make a diaphragm, make a trachea, make a bladder, make a blood vessel."  

Pearl says Hanna’s immune system will likely not reject the transplant because no donor organ was used. The 2-year old girl is the youngest patient in the world to benefit from the experimental treatment. Hanna will still need to go through physical therapy in the coming months to learn how to eat and drink. She may need surgery again after five years.