By Alexandra Sifferlin, TIME.com, May 01, 2013.
Hannah Warren was born without a trachea but now has one made from plastic fibers and a stew of her own stem cells.
The 2-year-old Korean Canadian has spent every day of her life in intensive care, kept alive by a tube that substituted for the windpipe that was supposed to connect her mouth to her lungs. But nearly a month after her transplant, the toddler is mostly breathing on her own and is responding to doctors and nurses.
The surgery, pioneered by Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, director of the Advanced Center for Translational Regenerative Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, was only the sixth performed in the world, and Hannah was the youngest patient and first to receive the transplant in the United States.
The procedure was approved by the FDA as an experimental operation for patients with very little hope of survival; being born without a trachea is fatal in 99% of cases.