When a 30-year-old woman from Colombia who had had severe stenosis from airway tuberculosis was referred to the University College London Centre for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, there were more questions than answers.
Explore this issue:November 2009
The woman was declining in both function and in clinical evaluations. Her airway could not handle stents. The only traditional approach that would have had any chance of curing her, doctors thought, was to remove her entire lung and a major airway.
Then she spoke with Paolo Macchiarini, MD, PhD, Professor of Thoracic Surgery in Barcelona, about the possibility of having a trachea transplant-not just any transplantation, but one in which the specimen she would be given had been mixed with new cells derived from her own stem cells in a bioreactor-an incubator for cells.