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.
Doctors at the University of Miami have developed an improvised way to perform a long-distance organ transplant involving the islet cells of the pancreas, which produces insulin and other enzymes the body requires.
A 21-year-old Air Force enlistee, Tre Francesco Porfirio, was shot while on duty in Afghanistan and his pancreas was essentially destroyed. With an injury like that, Porfirio’s prognosis was very difficult: If he could survive long enough to get to a specialized transplant center, he could perhaps get a transplant of islet cells from a deceased donor and take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of his life. Or doctors could remove his pancreas, leaving him completely dependent on insulin. Either way, an early death from complications of Type 1 diabetes was highly likely [Los Angeles Times].