Meet Claudia Castillo. She is 30 years old, lives in Barcelona and has two children. Claudia suffered from tuberculosis for years and in March her left lung collapsed, leaving her unable to care for her kids due to frequent hospital visits to clear her airways.
At first doctors thought they would have to remove her entire lung. But Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, head of thoracic surgery at Barcelona's Hospital Clinic, proposed a windpipe transplant instead.
In a bold move, they constructed a windpipe with tissue grown from Claudia's own stem cells. Using her own cells eliminated the need for anti-rejection medication.
"This technique has great promise," said Genden, who was not part of the research.
Only a handful of windpipe, or trachea, transplants have ever been done. If successful, the procedure could become a new standard of treatment.