A 30-year old cancer patient from Maryland became the first US patient to undergo a pioneering windpipe surgery that involved using his own stem cells to develop a new trachea.
Christopher Lyles from Abingdon, Maryland, was diagnosed with a rare form of trachea cancer last year and though he underwent seven rounds of chemotherapy, the doctors were unable to stop the cancer. When the tumor became so big that he had trouble breathing, Lyles looked for other options and found about an experimental procedure at Advanced Center for Translational Regenerative Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
Lyles signed up for the surgery even though the cost, between $300,000 to $600,000, was not covered by his medical insurance. A team of doctors led by Dr Macchinarini harvested stem cells from Lyles' bone marrow and regenerated them into tissue to create the trachea.
The 12-hour long surgery ended in a success and though a bout of pneumonia slowed down his recovery, Lyles can now breathe, eat and speak normally. Dr Macchinarini said that while the procedure was still in an experimental stage the demand for it is expected to increase rapidly over the next few years.
"We need to be very cautious and don't make hope for patients with cancer, because this is experimental. But so far the patients have had incredible results for an untreatable cancer", he said.