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Hannah Warren, first child to receive stem-cell windpipe, dies


Hannah Warren recovers after surgery at Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. Hannah, 2 1/2, was born without a windpipe, but doctors used stem cells from her hip to create a new trachea.


Jim Carlson

Hannah Warren, the little girl who received a new windpipe made from her stem cells in landmark surgery earlier this year, has died after "additional health issues" complicated her recovery.

The family said on its website that Hannah, who would have turned three next month, died when her lungs went from "fairly good, to weak, to poor."

Hannah died on July 6, but the hospital where she was treated made the announcement on Monday.

"She is a pioneer in stem-cell technology and her impact will reach all corners of our beautiful Earth," the family said online.

The girl was born in Seoul without a trachea and couldn't breathe, eat or speak without help.

She was blue when born, so doctors inserted a tube down her throat immediately to save her life.

Her father Darryl, a Canadian teaching English in South Korea, and mother, Young-Mi, heard about radical new procedures using stem cells and worked with doctors and the Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria to get Hannah a life-saving operation in April.

"Although regenerative medicine remains in the early stages for pediatric patients, progress is being made," the hospital website says.

"Hannah, and the physicians caring for her, helped advance this area of medical practice which is only at its very beginning stages."

What made the surgery unique was that by using Hannah's own stem cells, it virtually eliminated the chance her body would reject the new transplant.

She was the youngest patient to every undergo such a procedure.

Her new windpipe – made by placing stem cells over a plastic scaffold – was reportedly working well and didn't lead to Hannah's death.

"The trachea was never a problem," Dr. Paolo Macchiarini told The New York Times. "It was her native tissue that was very fragile."

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