Doctors have performed a rare, cutting-edge stem cell transplant surgery on a baby boy who was born prematurely and weighing only 495 grammes to help him develop his tiny lungs.
A doctor at the hospital said that the procedure was “one of the few transplants [of its kind] in the world.”
The baby, named as Yavuz Selim Cihan, was born in the 23rd week of pregnancy at the Namik Kemal University Faculty of Medicine Hospital located in the Turkish city of Tekirdag, in the historical East Thrace region, located on the Balkan peninsula, in south-eastern Europe.
Because of the baby boy’s fragile health condition, a team of surgeons led by Neonatal Intensive Care Unit specialist doctor Mustafa Torehan Aslan, from the Neonatology Department, performed a mesenchymal stem cell transplantation.
‘Mesenchymal’ refers to cells that develop into connective and lymphatic tissues, and blood vessels.
The stem cells, which were taken from Yavuz’s umbilical cord and then successfully transplanted into his lungs during the third week after his birth, are designed to help the young patient’s lung form properly and, additionally, to prevent him from acquiring chronic lung diseases.
Yavuz, who weighed only 495 grammes (1.1 lbs) at the time of the operation, was placed in an incubator immediately after receiving the treatment, making him one of the smallest patients in the world to ever undergo the procedure.
Faculty dean Dr Erdogan Gultekin said: “As you all know, medical science is now open to developments in genetics and stem cells. Stem cells play an important role in the treatment and research of diseases.”
Dr Gultekin continued: “We prepared umbilical mesenchymal cells and transplanted these into a 495-gramme newborn baby. The general condition of our patient is good. We are very happy to keep up with the developments in the world of medicine.”
Dr Gultekin also added that this was “one of the few transplants [of its kind] in the world”.
Dr Aslan said: “We are trying to treat very risky newborns in our hospital. Especially with the latest developments in the world, mesenchymal stem cell treatments continue to be really hopeful. In fact, it is a very limited method used both in our country and in the world.”
Aslan added: “The following period will be much more important. Along with the response to the stem cells, we will closely monitor the success of [the boy’s] lung development.”
He explained that the treatment is a fairly new medical practice and said: “In fact, it can be done for older and adult children, but there are very few applications in Turkey for babies this small.”