Peoria, IL, United States (4E) – The 2-year-old girl born without a trachea and implanted with the first artificial windpipe in April died Saturday, doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois (CHI) in Peoria announced Sunday.
Hannah Warren died from poor lung function, her American father and Korean mother said in a statement. CHI pediatric surgeon Dr. Mark J. Holterman said complications from a second surgery to make her esophagus heal caused her death.
On April 9, Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, a regenerative medicine specialist affiliated with the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, implanted on the toddler a bioengineered windpipe made from plastic fibers and filled with her own bone marrow cells. It was the first operation of its kind in the U.S. and involved the esophagus.
Macchiarini said the bioengineered trachea was never a problem.
Warren, who should have turned 3 in August, spent her life breathing through a tube inserted in her mouth at a Korean hospital until the operation. Being born without trachea is fatal in 99 percent of cases. The Food and Drug Administration allowed the pioneering and experimental surgery as the patient has slim hope of survival.
Trachea transplants are rare with only six known cases. Macchiarini and his team have been performing such operation since 2008. He also implanted a trachea on an American in Stockholm but the patient died.
In July 2012, British Ciaran Finn-Lynch, 13, became the first child to receive a donor trachea stripped of cells and refilled with his own stem cells.