Hannah was born in 2010 in Seoul, South Korea. Her body was blue and scans showed she had been born without a trachea. A tube was inserted down her esophagus and into her lungs, creating a temporary airway, but she would not be able to live long in that condition.
In April, doctors implanted a windpipe made from nanofiber plastic mesh coated in stem cells taken from the girl's bone marrow. But the girl's esophagus never fully healed, according to doctors at Children's Hospital of Illinois.
"Her new trachea was performing well, but her lungs went from fairly good, to weak, to poor," according to her parents, Darryl Warren and Lee Young-mi. "She is a pioneer in stem-cell technology and her impact will reach all corners of our beautiful Earth," they wrote on their blog.
Only about one in 50,000 children worldwide are born with tracheal agenesis. Hannah was the youngest patient to receive an artificial trachea, and the first child to receive an organ made entirely from synthetic materials and her own cells.
"Although regenerative medicine remains in the early stages for pediatric patients, progress is being made. Hannah, and the physicians caring for her, helped advance this area of medical practice which is only at its very beginning stages," the hospital said in a statement.
"Even at this time of loss and grief, we, and Hannah's family, take comfort in the knowledge that the efforts of her physicians and the care team working with them will benefit and serve other children and adults in the years to come."
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