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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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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.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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