WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - A ten-year-old girl suffering from hepatic portal vein obstruction was the first ever to receive a tissue-engineered vein grown from her own stem cells.
The hepatic portal vein has the job of draining blood from the intestines and spleen to the liver. Her condition was dangerous because a blockage to the hepatic portal vein can cause serious complications such as lethal variceal bleeding, enlarged spleen, developmental retardation, and even death.
This breakthrough was published in the June 14 issue of The Lancet
. Typically, treatment for this sort of condition consists of transplanting a liver or veins from the deep neck or leg. However, experts say this can be traumatic and there is a risk of lower limb disorders.
There were no complications from the surgery, and the girl's blood flow was restored immediately.
Since the procedure, the girl has recovered well. There was a need for a second stem-cell based procedure, but she is back to a normal life since that as well. She stays active by walking and doing light gymnastics.
Her immune system has not tried to fight off the donor tissue, and she did not need to take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent this.
"The new stem-cells derived graft resulted not only in good blood flow rates and normal laboratory test values but also, in strikingly improved quality of life for the patient," wrote the surgeons, led by Dr. Michael Olausson, a professor of surgery at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. They added that their work means there is the possibility of trying to reproduce arteries for surgical use, such as for coronary bypass surgery.