First Ever Human Tracheal Transplant Performed By Mount Sina
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A team of Mount Sinai surgeons has performed the world's first human tracheal transplant. This is an achievement that has the potential to save the lives of thousands of patients around the world who have tracheal birth defects, untreatable airway diseases, burns, tumors, or severe tracheal damage from intubation, including those who had been hospitalized with COVID-19 and placed on a ventilator.

The 18-hour procedure was a complex surgery involved a team of more than 50 specialists including surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, airway specialists, and residents. "For the first time, we are able to offer a viable treatment option to patients with life-compromising long segment tracheal defects," says a Doctor. The trachea transplantation and revascularization protocol is reliable, reproducible, and technically straightforward, he says.

The trachea transplant recipient is a 56-year-old female who had severe tracheal damage due to repeated intubation after an asthma attack; several failed surgical attempts to reconstruct her trachea led to even further damage. She breathed through a tracheostomy and was at high risk of suffocation and death because of the progression of her airway disease and likelihood of her trachea collapsing.

During the procedure, the Mount Sinai surgical team removed the trachea and the associated blood vessels from the donor. Then, the surgeons reconstructed the trachea in the recipient from the lungs to the larynx. Surgeons used a portion of the esophagus and thyroid gland to help provide blood supply.

Doctors had no guide for how well the graft would tolerate transplantation, so they worked very quickly. Seeing the graft come alive and knowing that the organ was well vascularized was an amazing experience. The patient has had no complications or signs of organ rejection and doctors are monitoring her closely to assess her progress and reaction to antirejection therapy.

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