Background: Tracheal transplantation has been considered the ideal option for the reconstruction of long-segment circumferential tracheal defects. Our group developed a technique for vascularized single-staged tracheal transplantation. Twenty months ago, we performed the first-in-human tracheal transplantation. Herein, we report a twenty-month follow-up. Methods: The recipient presented with a 9.0 cm airway tracheal stenosis and complete cricoid stenosis. The patient previously failed six major conventional surgical procedures. Prior to transplantation, the patient's airway was maintained with an extended tracheostomy and stent. The patient experienced repeated life-threatening airway obstruction because of mucous plugging and obstructive granulation tissue. In January 2020 the patient underwent a single-staged tracheal transplantation treated with triple-therapy immunosuppression. Organ rejection was monitored with endoscopic tracheoscopy, narrow-band imaging, free-cell DNA assessment, and histological and cytogenetic analysis of tracheal biopsies. Mucociliary function was assessed with dye motility studies. Results: Twenty months following transplantation, there has been no evidence of acute or chronic rejection. Since day 60, there has been no detectable free cell DNA, a surrogate marker for immune-mediated allograft rejection. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) cytogenetics demonstrated that the donor trachea was repopulated with recipient epithelium establishing a chimeric allograft. Narrow-band imaging demonstrates a well-vascularized epithelial mucosa and bronchoscopic biopsies demonstrate normal ciliated epithelial architecture and viable epithelial lining with functional ciliated epithelium. The patient has resumed a normal life without a stent or tracheostomy and has returned to work. Conclusions: Twenty months after single-staged vascularized tracheal transplantation, the trachea is functional and the patient breathes without the need for a tracheostomy or stent. Single-staged long-segment tracheal transplantation is a viable option for tracheal defects that are not amenable to conventional reconstructive techniques. Level of Evidence: 4 Laryngoscope, 133:1839–1845, 2023.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1839-1845
Number of pages7
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • airway
  • allograft
  • stenosis
  • trachea
  • transplant


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