Stem cells rebuild boy's windpipe
Pioneering surgery to rebuild an 11-year-old boy's windpipe using his own stem cells has been hailed a success as he prepares to leave hospital.
Ciaran Finn-Lynch became the first child in the world to undergo the pioneering trachea transplant in March and is set to return home to Northern Ireland.
Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London took stem cells from the youngster's bone marrow and injected them into a donor windpipe which had been stripped of its own cells.
They implanted the organ and allowed the stem cells to transform themselves in his own body. By using his cells, doctors could avoid the potential problem of Ciaran's immune system rejecting the organ.
Great Ormond Street revealed that, four weeks ago, the transplant was considered a success after doctors proved the blood supply had returned to the trachea.
Ciaran's parents, Colleen and Paul, now hope to take him home for the first time since November. They said the last few months had been a "rollercoaster" and paid tribute to the surgeons who saved their son.
Ciaran was born with a condition called Long Segment Tracheal Stenosis, which leaves sufferers with a very narrow windpipe - in his case just one millimetre across - making breathing incredibly difficult.
He underwent major surgery to reconstruct his airways but, at the age of two-and-a-half, a metal stent used to hold his airway open eroded into his aorta, a major artery.
He went through more surgery, including two attempts to rebuild his airway, and finally left hospital after eight months.
Ciaran lived a full and active life until November last year when a stent again started to erode, causing a "massive bleed".