Reykjavik, Iceland – Swedish surgeons made history by performing the world’s first synthetic organ transplant. They removed the patient’s cancerous windpipe and replaced it with a plastic pipe.
Scientists in London made an artificial windpipe for him coated in his own stem cells, NBC reports. Since the technique doesn’t need a donor, there’s no risk of the organ being rejected. The 36-year-old native of Eritrea who underwent the surgery is now recovering at a hospital in Iceland.
Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene, 36, is a graduate student in geology at the University of Iceland. Doctors diagnosed him with cancer in his trachea shortly after arriving in Iceland in 2009. After treatment, the cancer reappeared in 2010. At that time, doctors told him there was little hope of survival. However, his doctor found a researcher at the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden who had done experiments with a synthetic wind pipe.
Beyene said he was skeptical about the operation. “He explained that this has never been done to human beings,” Beyene said. “Oh, my God. If this is not done, how can I accept? And then he tried to make me easy and understand the situation. It was very hard. I was about to refuse. and then I consulted my professor and my relatives, doctors, surgeons.”
Beyene has family in Eritrea that includes a three-month-old son, whom he has yet to meet due to his battle with cancer.