Girl who received groundbreaking trachea transplant dies

By Mark Bullion

July 8, 2013 Updated Jul 9, 2013 at 10:44 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- The Children’s Hospital of Illinois announced Monday that 2-year-old Hannah Warren, who received a trachea transplant on April 9, died on Saturday.

We met Hannah two months ago following her surgery. She was a happy go lucky little girl who had recently enjoyed her first lollipop. Something she was unable to do before her surgery. Hannah was born without a windpipe and couldn't breathe on her own.

Hannah traveled from South Korea to the Children's Hospital of Illinois in Peoria. In April, she became the first child in the world to receive a bio-artificial trachea, made from her own stem cells, which virtually eliminates the risk of her body rejecting the transplant.

According to doctors, her surgery went very well but she was unable to overcome additional health issues that were identified as her care progressed.

"She had some anatomical issues and she had some previous illness issues we had to deal with, but the trachea itself worked fine," said Dr. Rick Pearl.

After surgery Hannah's lung function began to deteriorate going from fairly good, to weak, to poor.

On their website, Hannah's parents posted the following.

"Hannah's life, although short, is going to mean a lot for science and for patients who learn something from her death."

Hannah's doctors agree.

"When you're dealing with a complete new science and a complete new series of technologies, you're kind of doing something that's never been done before, you can't really look it up in the textbook or in an article to deal with a certain issue but that said, we learned an enormous amount of information," said Dr. Pearl.

Hannah passed away on Saturday, July 6, from lung failure. She would have turned 3 years old on August 22.

Her procedure was paid for through donations and charity and research funds.

The Children's Hospital of Illinois said that regenerative medicine remains in the early stages for pediatric patients and the progress is being made.