Page last updated at 00:20 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Stem cell hope for sick patients

Claudia Castillo from Colombia is the recipient of the world's first tissue-engineered whole organ transplant - using a windpipe made with the patient's own stem cells.

It means for the first time tissue transplants can be carried out without the need for anti-rejection drugs.

Here BBC News website readers respond to the use of stem cells and share their own expectations of any future developments.

NORMAN & SYLVIA COLLIS, DORSET
Sylvia Collis
This news story now provides a light at the end of a very dark tunnel for my wife who has had to have over a hundred laser operations on her trachea.

She was initially diagnosed with a wart in the area where the trachea goes narrow.

This requires laser treatment but in turn, this leaves scar tissue that regularly needs to be removed.

Once the scar tissue forms, my wife is unable to breath and even loses her sense of taste and smell.

She has a trachaeotomy tube in her throat at the moment and the only alternative to constant operations is for her to have a laryngectomy, which is irreversible.

My wife has a hospital appointment coming up as well as another operation.

I intend to speak to doctors in the hope that my wife can benefit from stem cell surgery.

MARY SINCLAIR, KENT

I first had problems with my stomach in the 1980s. At first doctors said I had an ulcer but after five operations the problem escalated and resulted in having my stomach removed.


If there is an outside chance that I can get well, I would take that chance


I was told that I would die back in 1993 but I'm still here! I was in hospital for a very long time and I didn't eat anything for a year.

My weight plummeted; even now I only weigh about 68 lbs, and can only eat very small quantities of food.

My health problems escalated and I had cancer of the breast, ovaries and kidney, as well as osteoporosis.

I would be a willing volunteer to undergo tests for a new stomach.

I have been told that I would need stem cells from an umbilical cord along with cells from my own liver to help create a new stomach.

I am now 64, and if there is an outside chance that I can get well, I would take that chance.

MIKE OGDEN, MANCHESTER
Mike Ogden
Mike Ogden welcomes the stem cell breakthrough

I have never known anyone with cancer before, but in the space of a few years, my parents and a couple of my friends were diagnosed with the disease.

My mum had brain tumours and my dad is currently dying of lung cancer.

One friend had several brain tumours that unfortunately cut his life short and my ex-girlfriend had breast cancer.

I strongly believe we should invest heavily in stem cell surgery. When I see medical breakthroughs like this, I can see they have the potential to help a lot of people.

There needs to be a great deal of research into diseases such as cancer, supported by full government funding.

It is this kind of cutting edge medical research using stem cells that gives hope for further breakthroughs in organ replacements.

Britain should be working more closely with our European neighbours and other countries around the world to help speed up the process.

PAUL MARSHALL, BELFAST

I have type 1 diabetes and was first diagnosed with the condition at the age of nine months.

From the age of five I learned to give myself daily insulin injections.

Some years ago I was looking into pancreas transplants. But the downside is that I would need to be permanently on drugs to prevent organ rejection.

As a long-term diabetic I am prone to problems with other parts of my body including the kidneys, eyes and limbs.

In my case, this could potentially allow a new pancreas to be grown and so remove the need for injections.

This breakthrough could increase my life expectancy to beyond 60.




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