Man's New Windpipe is the World's First Synthetic Organ Transplant

By Valerie Ross | July 11, 2011 11:01 am

The synthetic trachea, just before implantation

What’s the News: An African man’s new trachea is the world’s first synthetic organ to be transplanted. Made from a polymer scaffold coated with the patient’s own cells, the windpipe seems to be working out well, more than a month after the surgery.

How the Heck:

What’s the Context:

  • Earlier windpipe transplants have also used tissues derived from the patients’ stem cells—but the tissues were grown on donor tracheae, not artificial scaffolds, meaning that a suitable donor was still needed for every transplant.
  • Building new organs from only a patient’s cells and manmade materials, however, could eliminate the need for donor organs altogether, a major benefit given the chronic shortage of organs and the number of patients who die while waiting for a transplant.
  • This transplant was also amazingly fast—two days to grow a trachea!—which is particularly good news for patients who are critically ill.

The Future Holds:

Image: University College London

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


80beats is DISCOVER's news aggregator, weaving together the choicest tidbits from the best articles covering the day's most compelling topics.

See More

Collapse bottom bar