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A similar procedure was followed in this case. The donor windpipe was stripped of all cells until it was just a tube with no organic material. Just before being transplanted, Dr. Macchiarini injected the donor trachea with the stem cells. In the Spanish case, the stem cells were grown on the trachea before the transplant.
It takes two to three months for the stem cells to completely cover the trachea, creating a new organ, Giovannini said.
In the meantime, the windpipe is functional without the cells -- acting as a sort of mechanical device before the stem cells transform it into an organ, Giovannini said.
Because the new trachea contains no organic substance foreign to the patient, no anti-rejection drugs are needed.
Macchiarini told a press conference in Florence the procedure could in the future be applied to other organs.
"I'm thinking about the larynx or surgeries involving lungs," Macchiarini said.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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