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A boy in England has received the first organ transplant that will grow inside the patient's body using their own stem cells.   (Source: PA)
The era of replaceable organs is drawing near

Mankind is close to defying nature and extending human beings' life spans tens of years by using replacement organs.  The key to this progress is stem cells, the same kind of cells that differentiated to form your original tissues.

In England, a 10-year-old boy received a groundbreaking tracheal transplant at the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.  The windpipe -- a flexible tube that connects the nose, mouth and lungs -- was replaced with an organ that will grow inside the boy's own body using the boy's own stem cells.

The story began when the boy was born with long segment tracheal stenosis, a debilitating condition that leaves the victim with a 1 mm wide airway, which can lead to suffocation and death.  Doctors tried to treat the condition with stents, but the stents collapsed, cutting off the boy's airflow and damaging his aorta.  After the boy almost stopped breathing, his doctors contacted Paolo Macchiarini, from Careggi University Hospital, Florence.

Macchiarini decided to try an ambitious and risky approach that had never before been successfully performed -- regrowing the organ in the boy's own body using stem cells.  Leading a Italian, British and Spanish team, the researchers first took a donor windpipe and stripped it of all cells to prevent immune response.

The procedure has begun with a successful implant.  Seeded with the boy's stem cells and a cocktail of growth-promoting chemicals, the tissue was implanted into the boy last Week.  The boy responded well, breathing normally and speaking soon after the operation.

Professor Martin Birchall, head of translational regenerative medicine at University College London called the procedure a "milestone moment" and pointed out that by allowing the boy's own cells to regrow the tissue, the cost was dramatically lowered to "tens of thousands pounds rather than hundreds of thousands."  

He states, "We believe it’s a real milestone.  It is the first time a child has received stem-cell organ treatment, and it’s the longest airway that has ever been replaced. I think the technique will allow not just highly specialized hospitals to carry out stem-cell organ transplants. We don’t think it’s going to replace conventional transplants just yet, but already there are certain aspects of conventional transplant surgery it can be applied to. We need to think about how to make regenerative medicine a key part of our healthcare."

The work follows other significant work two years ago in Spain where Claudia Castillo, 30, became the first person to receive a portion of trachea regrown with stem cells.  That transplant, however, was a much shorter tract of trachea and was much more expensive as it was grown outside the body in a special bioreactor.

The researchers are looking forward to advancing the treatment aggressively, perhaps next performing larynx or oesophagus stem cell transplants.

Despite this optimism, it still remains to be seen whether the boy's recovery is as successful as anticipated.  Given Castillo's success, though, the boy is expected to make a full recovery.  And with that recovery mankind will move one step closer to immortality.

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Universal healthcare
By superPC on 3/22/2010 12:00:17 PM , Rating: -1
I thought the UK has a national health care system. how is it possible that they have national health care and still manage to perform such high cost experimental surgery?

RE: Universal healthcare
By Earthmonger on 3/22/2010 12:07:33 PM , Rating: 5
The most obvious answer is that the doctors and nurses are paid salary, not out of the patient's pocket. There is no high financial cost to consider, no retailers setting a price on lives. The cost is simply time.

RE: Universal healthcare
By Mitch101 on 3/22/2010 1:02:26 PM , Rating: 3
Learned a new word.

* someone devoted to the promotion of human welfare and to social reforms.

/sarcasm off

Which brings me to this. I saw a doctor teaching a number of people in a third world country how to perform caterac surgery in something like an hour. They treated several hundred people in a day. To fix my dog going blind from cateracs is $2400.00 or $1800 for one eye. What the hell?

RE: Universal healthcare
By fic2 on 3/22/2010 2:15:46 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe you should have asked the doctor in the third world country to treat your dog...

Among other things that keep the cost down in the 3rd world are admin and legal.

RE: Universal healthcare
By Regs on 3/22/10, Rating: 0
RE: Universal healthcare
By redbone75 on 3/22/2010 3:24:47 PM , Rating: 4
I'm sorry, but I couldn't let this one pass:
They are contempt in dying at younger ages.

Besides the fact that the word you wanted is content, this statement is just... well, stupid, for lack of a better word. Maybe I'm looking for unsubstantiated and baseless, but statements like these make me want to slap people.

RE: Universal healthcare
By Regs on 3/22/2010 11:38:36 PM , Rating: 2
It's the inability to understand another's culture, values, and beliefs that make our foreign policy inherently train wrecks.

Though if you wish to continue on your popular belief pertaining to moral panic, then maybe you should stay indoors to save innocent bystanders of your misplaced aggression from your own stupidity.

RE: Universal healthcare
By redbone75 on 3/23/2010 2:29:57 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, I'm gonna slap me someone...

RE: Universal healthcare
By Samus on 3/22/2010 6:18:36 PM , Rating: 2
While it is more financially desirable for doctors to practice in the United States, they have more freedom and less red tape elsewhere.

You can argue while the USA have the best paid doctors in the world they could be considered some of the best, the statistics are against you. We have some amazing, innovative research centers here (Mayo Clinic) and arguably the heart of pharmacutical research, we are severely lacking in medical research grants, and the legal system constantly eats away at the communities funding from all directions.

RE: Universal healthcare
By quiksilvr on 3/22/2010 2:36:31 PM , Rating: 2
You get what you pay for, I guess. Do you want someone that studied surgery for years or someone in a third world country with one hour training? Hell, you can go there yourself and get trained and perform the procedure.

RE: Universal healthcare
By wiz220 on 3/22/2010 12:14:46 PM , Rating: 2
I think this is a good questions and it might point to one of the problems in our current health care debate. Some of the people railing against public health care point to other systems around the world as evidence for the case against public systems when they don't fully understand how those systems work.

RE: Universal healthcare
By SPOOFE on 3/22/2010 12:28:43 PM , Rating: 3
how is it possible that they have national health care and still manage to perform such high cost experimental surgery?

Because they told some pencil-pusher that they can do it for ten thousand pounds instead of a hundred thousand. And everyone is on the look-out for a solid public relations win.

One doesn't look at the successes when judging a system (any system, not just health care), one looks at the nature of the failures. This article is describing a success in medicine, not the system that administers that medicine.

RE: Universal healthcare
By Flunk on 3/22/2010 12:57:24 PM , Rating: 3
Universal healthcare only covers procedures that have been approved by the governing body. Experimental procedures like this are rarely covered. You might want to do some research on how the UK health care system works because your comment shows a deep misunderstanding of how such systems work.

RE: Universal healthcare
By MadMan007 on 3/22/2010 1:31:26 PM , Rating: 2
Considering he *was* asking a question you could have been a wee bit nicer and simply answered it.

RE: Universal healthcare
By superPC on 3/22/2010 2:54:02 PM , Rating: 2
well since you're obviously has deep knowledge that i sorely lack, do enlighten me.

RE: Universal healthcare
By dtunernask on 3/22/10, Rating: -1
RE: Universal healthcare
By porkpie on 3/22/2010 4:20:50 PM , Rating: 3
"Have a Brain Tumor? You'll be rolled into the surgery room asap."

Oh really?

After suffering from crushing headaches and vision problems, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor four years ago. She was told if it wasn't removed, she could go blind or even die.

"They said to me that you had a brain tumor and it was pressing on your optic chasm and that it needed to come out immediately," Holmes said.

Holmes is Canadian, but the "they" she refers to are doctors at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, where she turned after specialists in her own government-run health care system would not see her fast enough.

"My family doctor at that time tried to get me in to see an endocrinologist and a neurologist," Holmes recalled. "It was going to be four months for one specialist and six months for the other."

Even with the warning from U.S. doctors in hand, Holmes said she still couldn't get in to see Canadian specialists. Because the government system is the only health care option for Canadians, she says she had no choice but to have the surgery in the U.S.

In the past, I've posted dozens of links about patients in Canada and Britain waiting months or even years for treatment for serious medical conditions.

RE: Universal healthcare
By cabooble on 3/23/2010 3:43:39 AM , Rating: 2
I've enjoyed reading your posts in this thread, and agree with most of what you've said.

However, it seems as though you bring up this case to demonstrate how flawed the Canadian system is. How many cases can you find of US residents unable to receive treatments because they couldn't afford them? I doubt any significant number of those are publicized.

RE: Universal healthcare
By porkpie on 3/23/2010 10:55:26 AM , Rating: 3
The point in contention here is whether or not socialized medicine will make health care better for the average US citizen -- the person who already has health care. It will not.

Obviously someone not currently receiving health care will be better off by getting it for matter how poor that service is, something is better than nothing. But all in all, giving such people guaranteed health care is not a good thing.

RE: Universal healthcare
By Seamus on 3/22/2010 5:36:12 PM , Rating: 2
The Great Ormand Street Hospital (GOSH) raises money through donations. Here is a quote from the GOSH Charity page
But we need to raise over £50 million every year to help keep the magic alive.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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