S. Korea-born toddler who got experimental stem cell windpipe died

July 9, 2013 at 2:01 AM
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PEORIA, Ill., July 9 (UPI) -- A toddler from South Korea who had a windpipe grown from her own stem cells implanted in April after being born without one has died, a U.S hospital says.

Children born with tracheal agenesis -- the trachea or windpipe fails to develop -- often don't survive. However, when Hannah Warren, born to Canadian Darryl Warren and Korean Young Mi Warren, was 1 month old, Dr. Mark Holterman, a pediatric surgeon, heard about her medical problem and met her during a business trip to Seoul.

On another visit, Holterman met Hannah's parents and offered to do what he could to find a solution for their baby.

Holterman researched the field of regenerative medicine and learned of the pioneering tracheal transplantation work of Dr. Paolo Macchiarini in Sweden. Macchiarini agreed to help and in mid-2011, Holterman asked the Children's Hospital of Peoria, Ill., and OSF Saint Francis Medical Center to pitch in.

It took two years of planning, paperwork, travel arrangements and staff education of the improvements to the trachea implant protocol. Her family arrived in the United States March 29 for the surgery.

The transplant of the windpipe, created by the girl's stem cells, was successfully completed, but lung complications followed a second surgery and she died Saturday, several weeks shy of her third birthday, officials said.

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