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Hannah Warren, 2 1/2, alive thanks to windpipe made from stem cells (VIDEO)

Doctors remove stem cells from hip bone to create trachea for Hannah Warren, youngest patient ever to undergo operation.

Hannah surgery
Doctors perform Hannah Warren's windpipe surgery at Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. (Jim Carlson / Courtesy)
Hannah warren windpipe pre op
Darryl Warren and his wife, Young-Mi, accompany Hannah before her windpipe surgery at Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. (Jim Carlson / Courtesy)
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Hannah Warren laughs before her windpipe surgery at Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. (Jim Carlson / Courtesy)
Hannah warren windpipe surgery dog
Hannah Warren plays with a therapy dog before her windpipe surgery at Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. (Jim Carlson / Courtesy)
Hannah warren windpipe surgery family
Darryl Warren and his wife, Young-Mi, comfort Hannah after her windpipe surgery at Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. (Jim Carlson / Courtesy)
Hannah warren windpipe surgery painted nails
Hospital staff paint Hannah Warren's fingernails after her windpipe surgery at Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. (Jim Carlson / Courtesy)
Hannah warren windpipe surgery painted toenails
Hospital staff paint Hannah Warren's toenails after her windpipe surgery at Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. (Jim Carlson / Courtesy)
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Hannah Warren recovers after surgery at Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. Hannah, 2 1/2, was born without a windpipe, but doctors used stem cells from her hip to create a new trachea. (Jim Carlson / Courtesy)
Hannah warren windpipe test
Doctors test Hannah Warren's new windpipe during surgery at Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. (Jim Carlson / Courtesy)

Within the span of a week, Hannah Warren’s stem cells created a completely new trachea which will finally enable the 2 1/2-year-old South Korean girl to speak her first words.

Doctors then transplanted that windpipe into her throat during a groundbreaking surgery last month in Illinois. The procedure was the first of its kind on a child so young.

Doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Illinois in Peoria — along with Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, professor of Regenerative Surgery at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden — completed the surgery over the course of nine hours.

“The most amazing thing, which for a little girl is a miracle, is that this transplant has not only saved her life, but it will eventually enable her to eat, drink and swallow, even talk, just like any other normal child,” Macchiarini, lead surgeon in the case, told reporters Tuesday.

“She will go from being a virtual prisoner in a hospital bed to running around and playing with her sister and enjoying a normal life, which is a beautiful thing.”

The Children’s Hospital of Illinois is part of the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, a Catholic organization advocating for stem cell research that doesn’t use human embryos, the Washington Post said.

Hannah’s operation used stem cells from her own bone marrow and plastic fibers. Because no donor organ was used, the procedure virtually eliminates the chance that her immune system will reject the transplant, the hospital said in a press release.

Hannah was born with the normally fatal defect and had spent her life in hospital, unable to speak, eat, drink or breathe without help.

Without a new windpipe, her prognosis was dire.

Her Korean mother, Young-Mi, and Canadian father, Darryl, had heard of the possible stem cell procedure, but couldn’t afford the high cost.

After the family contacted them, doctors and the Children’s Hospital agreed to perform the surgery for free.

To create the windpipe, surgeons removed Hannah’s stem cells from her hip. They used a plastic scaffold and the cells created the trachea.

She will likely need a new windpipe in a few years as she grows, the New York Times said.

“All we have ever wanted since Hannah was born was to be able to bring her home and be a regular family,” Darryl Warren said on the hospital website.

“Hannah has been through so much and defied the odds. She is our little miracle.” 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/130501/hannah-warren-windpipe-trachea-stem-cells-transplant