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Irish boy's stem cell operation may change surgery

11-year-old underwent groundbreaking surgery on windpipe.

A BOY FROM Northern Ireland, who was the first child in the world to undergo a windpipe transplat using stem cells, is set to return home today after the operation was deemed a success.

Doctors are hoping the operation will mean a huge leap in regenerative medicine along the lines of Finn-Lynch’s surgery.

Ciaran Finn-Lynch, 11, received a trachea from an Italian donor in a nine-hour operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, in March. Doctors had removed the donor’s cells using digestive enzymes and replaced them with Finn-Lynch’s own  stem cells.

The stem cells originated in his bone marrow, and were used to ensure the organ was not rejected after the transplant. The pioneering surgery meant that the new tissue grew on the trachea while it was inside his body, instead of being cultivated externally.

Ciaran was born with a condition which meant he had a very narrow windpipe which made breathing difficult. Procedures to open up his airways provided temporary relief before surgeons suggested a transplant as a more permanent solution last year.