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Windpipe Transplant

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Two-and-a-half year old Hannah Warren was born without a windpipe.

Doctors in Korea told her parents there was no hope for her survival. But now, thanks to groundbreaking surgery at Children's Hospital of Illinois, she has a trachea grown from her own stem cells.

"The tube in her mouth disappeared, and she was reborn," says father Warren.

Doctors extracted cells from Hannah's bone marrow and grew them around a plastic frame in a lab. Within a week, the cells multiplied to form a windpipe.

A surgical team implanted the new trachea during a nine-hour procedure April 9th.

"We're basically taking her own tissue and encouraging the body to fix itself," says Dr. Mark Holterman.

Doctors say unlike donor organs, using Hannah's own stem cells greatly reduces the likelihood her body will reject the implant.

"If you could look into the future, this is the future of organ transplantation," says Dr. Richard Pearl.

Hannah was able to taste food for the first time ever - a few licks of a lollipop.

She faces extensive rehabilitation and more surgeries to help her eat and speak normally.

"Our hopes and dreams for her are the same as the hopes and dreams of a parent with a healthy child - is that they get to experience everything that this beautiful world has to offer," says her father.

Hannah has spent her whole life in a hospital. Her family hopes to bring her home to join her older sister in a few months.

They plan to celebrate Hannah's third birthday in August.

Hannah may need a larger windpipe in the future as her body grows.

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