An image released by Karolinska University Hospital shows part of the operation.
The world’s first transplant of a fully synthetic organ has been carried out by surgeons – a windpipe created using the patient’s stem cells and an artificial “scaffold”. A month ago a 36-year-old cancer patient received the organ at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm.
The process involved scientists at University College London, who were given three-dimensional scans of the windpipe of Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene, a geology student from Eritrea with an inoperable, cancerous tumour that was obstructing his breathing.
They created a glass mould of the windpipe and his two main bronchial tubes, which was then coated in a polymer containing millions of tiny holes.
It was flown to Sweden where it was “seeded” with stem cells from Mr Beyene’s bone marrow and placed in a bioreactor for two days to allow the cells to take root. Further cells were taken from his nose to line the windpipe.
Prof Paolo Macchiarini, a Spanish surgeon, carried out the 12-hour transplant operation. He praised the construction technique, which meant that “custom-made” windpipes could be produced within a week.