Ariel Sachtjen 5/8/13
Biology Stem Cells
Chan, Amanda L. "Hannah Warren, 2-Year-Old Girl, Gets Windpipe Made From Stem Cells." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 30 Apr. 2013. Web. 19 May 2013.
At the age of only two years old Hannah Warren has been through a lot of medical treatments. Hannah was born in South Korea in 2010 but her parents soon moved to Peoria, Illinois. She was born without a windpipe and now has a new one grown from her own stem cells. Hannah is the youngest patient in the world to receive this stem cell treatment. From birth she could not eat, drink , breath or swallow because she was born without a windpipe. Hannah had spent her entire life in the hospital. Doctors informed her parents that there was no hope for her to live. Hannah’s parents had heard of Doctor Paolo Macchiarini, and his work with stem cell grown tracheas. However, his institute is in Stockholm, Sweden and they could not afford to go there. The Children’s Hospital arranged for Doctor Macchiarini to come to Peoria, Illinois to perform the surgery. The stem cells used in this procedure came form Hannah’s bone marrow. They were extracted with a special needle inserted into her hip bone. They were seeded in a lab onto a plastic scaffold. In less than a week enough cells multiplied to make a new windpipe. During a nine hour operation Dr. Macchiarini inserted a three inch tube into her body. The operation was successful and the windpipe is working, but Hannah will need to stay on a ventilator a while longer. The doctors said they think she will live a normal life and recover fully. Hannah still has a long recovery. Right now she is unable to eat normally, but recently tasted food for the first time in her life. She tried a few licks of a lollipop. Her father said “ she already has discriminating taste and prefers chocolate Korean lollipops to the American kind.” This type of operation normally costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Children’s Hospital paid the entire cost of Hannah’s operation. It is a Roman Catholic hospital that believes in charity, and they also wanted to show how stem cell therapy doesn’t have to use embryonic stem cells which the Church is against.
This article shows the amazing impact of stem cell therapy. I choose this article because I think the field of stem cell technology is very important. This technology is important to society because it can change lives, possibly providing cures for devastating illnesses and defects. Human embryonic stem cells come from eggs that are fertilized during a process known as in vitro fertilization. These cells can help infertile couples produce babies. However, it has been discovered that these cells also hold the clue to cures and treatments for many devastating diseases. Embryonic stem cell research is a subject of moral controversy. However, scientists now know that stem cells can also be taken from an individual’s own body, as was the case with Hannah. Even people against embryonic stem cell research support this type of stem cell technology. One in 50,000 children in the world are born with the windpipe defect. The stem cell technique has been used to make other body parts besides windpipes and holds promise for treating other birth defects and childhood diseases. Doctor Anthony Atala, director of Wake Forest University’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine said “ Scientists hope to eventually use the method to create solid organs, including kidneys and livers.” He said the operation on Hannah Warren “is really showing that the technique is workable.” I think stem cell research is tremendously important to our society. The fact that stem cells can help cure some diseases and create new body parts is remarkable.
I really enjoyed this article. I thought it was very timely since in class we have been studying stem cells. I thought it was very interesting to see that Hannah set a new record as being the youngest person to ever benefit from this stem cell treatment. Before reading this article I never even thought that someone could be born without a windpipe. I find it so interesting that it is a one in fifty thousand chance to be born with a windpipe defect. I thought the article was very well written, it did a great job of explaining Hannah’s defect and treatment. I thought it was very touching that Children’s Hospital brought Doctor Macchiarini all that way from Sweden and paid the entire cost of the surgery. However, I think the author could have gone into a bit more depth about the controversy surrounding stem cell research. It only briefly explained the Roman Catholic Hospital’s reason for supporting Hannah’s type of stem cell treatment. The story of Hannah Warren shows the world how science can create miracles.