Patient Receives First Fully Synthetic Organ Transplant

Jul 18, 2011   

Last month, a 36 year-old cancer patient received the worlds first trachea implant made of his own stem cells grown on a man-made plastic matrix. Researchers from Sweden, England and the U.S. collaborated in Stockholm to create the trachea from scratch in 48 hours.

The procedure began by removing the patients bone marrow and filtering out certain cells, called mononucleocytes. Those cells were then treated with growth factors in order to morph into the cells that form the rings of the trachea. The cells and the plastic matrix were then placed in a bioreactor which rotates the matrix once per minute dipping the matrix into the cells. Within 48 hours, the cells grew around the matrix and the trachea was ready for implant.

Although a similar procedure was completed in 2008, this procedure is the first to transplant a wholly synthetic trachea without relying on human donation. In 2008, a patient in Barcelona received a trachea that had been removed from an organ donor and, over a period of weeks, cleared of all of its original cells, leaving just a matrix that could be coated with the patient’s own stem cells.

The synthetic organ transplant was deemed a success when the patients body accepted the new trachea. Researchers say the application of growth of synthetic organs from stem cells may help children, who lack as many donated organs as adults. The next patient who will receive a similar procedure is a 9-month-old girl who was born without a trachea.

Fuerst Ittleman recognizes the promise that stem cells hold for regenerative medicine. We will continue to monitor future stem cell procedures and other stem cell studies. For more information the regulatory oversight of stem cells, contact us at