Toddler’s Windpipe Grown from Her Own Stem Cells
As a parent, how would you feel about doctors performing an experimental procedure on your child? Would you let them do it if it meant you might have your child around for a lifetime rather than just a few years? What if it meant that she wouldn’t be hooked up to breathing tubes in a hospital for her entire life?
For parents Darryl and Young-Mi Warren the procedure was a risk worth taking when they allowed their daughter Hannah to become the youngest ever patient to benefit from an experimental stem-cell treatment. Little Hannah Warren was born without a windpipe, preventing her from being able to eat, drink, or swallow on her own. Her entire life was spent in a hospital with a breathing tube in her mouth.
Around 50,000 babies are born without windpipes each year and this complication means they usually don’t live for very many years. Hannah’s parents became desperate in their search to find a solution to the problem and save their daughter.
An Italian doctor and an American pediatrician agreed to try a new type of procedure to try to help the young girl. They extracted stem cells from the marrow in her hipbone to use in order to grow a new windpipe for Hannah.
Normally, the FDA is hesitant to grant permission to doctors to take on experimental procedures like this one, but due to her condition, Hannah was not expected to live past the age of six, so they gave the surgeons the go ahead.
According to Discovery News, “It took less than a week for the stem cells to multiply and form a new windpipe.”
The implantation of the windpipe took nine hours and took place on April 9.
Hannah’s father said they hope to bring their little girl home in a month, in plenty of time to enjoy her third birthday in August.
He also said that seeing his daughter beginning to recover feels like she is “reborn.”
There is a fair amount of risk that comes with stem cell procedures, but according to the Associated Press, “Doctors announced Tuesday, April 30, 2013, she is recovering and likely will lead a normal life.”
Doctors have also said that the success of the procedure has given them hope for the future. Many more lives may be saved because of this experimental surgery and the bravery of young Hannah and her parents.
Hannah’s mouth tube has been removed and doctors let her taste food for the first time—a few licks of a lollipop.
The Warrens were brave in their desperate efforts to save their child. The doctors didn’t give them much hope, but they took a leap of faith when they allowed Hannah to undergo her windpipe surgery.
Would you do the same thing for your child? Is it worth the risk? Comment below!