Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

2 year old girl gets windpipe made from stem cells

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., 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.


  1. One aspect that Ariel did very well was explaining the story of Hannah Warren in great detail. With such an description it was very easy to understand what exactly Hannah Warren has been living through the past two years. Another aspect that Ariel did well is in her second paragraph when she gave her opinion. I found her opinion to be persuasive to the reader and it made me agree with her. The last aspect that I thought ariel did well is how she related Hannah's story to the controversial topic of embryonic stem cells. One thing that I was impressed by is the fact that a doctor was able to use Hannah's bone marrow for her stem cells. Another thing that I found interesting was that fact that the church funding this research had the goal in mind to show people that embryonic research was morally wrong. One thing that Ariel could do better is to look over some of her grammatical mistakes, but other than that this was a well written current event.

  2. One part of the review that Ariel did well is the attention to detail in her summary and using that to support her reasons for the importance of the article. There was a lot of detail about what Hannah Warren has gone through in her life, which was helpful to me as a reader. Another aspect that Ariel did well was defining and explaining things that the reader would not know. She said where human embryonic stem cells come from. Ariel also said how the surgery was done on Hannah, from taking the stem cells out of her bone marrow, growing it in the lab, and placing the new windpipe into her. A third part of the review that was done well is arguing how stem cells can be used for medical treatments. From this review, I learned that one in 50,000 people are born with windpipe defects. Before reading this, I had never heard of people having windpipe defects and never thought about it as an issue that people were born with. Also, I found it interesting that a Roman Catholic hospital supported this surgery because of the controversy of it and their previous view on stem cell research. One thing that Ariel could have done better in this review is make the summary shorter. There was a lot of detail that helped me to understand the event, but there was also a lot of extra that could have been cut out.

  3. Overall, Ariel did a very good job of summarizing the article she read for this report and I agree with all of the points she states towards the end. I thought Ariel did an exceptional job of telling the story of Hannah Warren, so much that her summarization was almost better than the article itself. I like how I was able to understand the fascinating story of this poor girl who was born without a windpipe which is mind blowing. I thought that Ariel also presented the stem cell part of this article very well and connected it to what we learned in class and what was on our test. I felt that this article really backed up what we learned about and how stem cells taken from her bone marrow could actually help her get a windpipe and help her live a normal life. Ariel summed up the article very well and also wrote it in such a way that the reader really cares and feels the pain of Hannah Warren as opposed to just stating the facts.
    I was also amazed at how the operation really worked, as although we learned about stem cells in class we never really saw a true example where we saw them work but now I am very interested in stem cell research. I was also impressed at how such a complex scientific procedure actually sounds pretty simple the way it was summarized in this article and from what we have learned.
    This review is at its prime and I cannot think of anyway to make it better. Maybe next time talk about how many people this research has helped, but overall good job Ariel.