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
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