First-Ever Stem Cell Vein Saves Girl, 10
Blood vessel grown using donor vein, stem cells
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2012 1:04 PM CDT

(Newser) – Doctors in Sweden grew the first-ever vein in a lab, and used it to save the life of a 10-year-old girl in this futuristic miracle story: A 3.5-inch section of groin vein was taken from a deceased donor, the living cells were removed to leave only a sort of scaffolding, and then stem cells from the girl's bone marrow were injected onto that tube. Two weeks later, the new blood vessel was implanted, and normal blood flow immediately resumed; a second graft was later required after the initial blood vessel narrowed.

Before being replaced, the girl's vein that drains blood from the intestines to the liver had been obstructed, a condition that can be fatal, Reuters reports. The transplant could open the door to further advances in stem cell technology, such as grafts for heart bypass and dialysis patients whose blood vessels are compromised. Says one member of the team, "I'm very optimistic that in the near future we will be able to get both arteries and veins transplanted on a large scale."