Baby gets heart transplant with a twist to fight rejection

Mar 7, 2022, 3:21 PM | Updated: 4:05 pm
This photo provided by Duke Health shows thymus tissue for transplant to a pediatric heart patient ...

This photo provided by Duke Health shows thymus tissue for transplant to a pediatric heart patient on Aug. 16, 2021 at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C. Duke University doctors say the baby is thriving after a first-of-its-kind heart transplant -- one that came with a bonus technique to try to help prevent rejection of the new organ. The thymus plays a critical role in building the immune system. (Shawn Rocco/Duke Health via AP)

(Shawn Rocco/Duke Health via AP)

Duke University doctors say a baby is thriving after a first-of-its-kind heart transplant — one that came with a bonus technique to try to help prevent rejection of the new organ.

The thymus plays a critical role in building the immune system. Doctors have wondered if implanting some thymus tissue that matched a donated organ might help it survive without the recipient needing toxic anti-rejection medicines.

Easton Sinnamon of Asheboro, North Carolina, received his unique transplant last summer when he was 6 months old. But Duke waited to announce it until Monday after doctors learned the specially processed thymus implants appear to be functioning like they’d hoped — producing immune cells that don’t treat the tot’s new heart like foreign tissue.

Doctors eventually will try weaning Easton off the immune-suppressing drugs required after a transplant, said Dr. Joseph Turek, Duke’s chief of pediatric cardiac surgery.

The research is in very early stages and just one possible method scientists are testing in hopes of inducing what’s called immune tolerance to a transplant.

But Turek says if it works, it could be attempted with other organ transplants, not just the heart.

Easton was a candidate for the experimental transplant because he had two separate health problems. He was born with some heart defects that surgeries right after birth failed to solve. And he suffered recurrent infections that doctors eventually realized meant his own thymus wasn’t working properly.

Some babies are born without a thymus, which stimulates development of part of the immune system known as T cells. Separately, Duke researchers had been working with Enzyvant Therapeutics to develop lab-grown implants of donated thymus tissue to treat that rare disorder.

Easton got a combination of the two procedures. First surgeons implanted his new heart while the donated thymus was sent to a lab. About two weeks later, he had a second operation to implant the processed thymus tissue. His own partially working thymus was removed, to clear the way for new immune cells to take hold.

About six months later, testing shows the thymus tissue is building Easton well-functioning new T cells, said Turek.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Dead fish lie on the banks of the German-Polish border river Oder in Lebus, eastern Germanny, Satur...
Associated Press

What killed tons of fish in European river? Mystery deepens

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Laboratory tests following a mass die-off of fish in the Oder River detected high levels of salinity but no mercury poisoning its waters, Poland’s environment minister said Saturday as the mystery continued as to what killed tons of fish in Central Europe. Anna Moskwa, the minister of climate and environment, said […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks before President Joe Biden signs the $1.2 trillion bipa...
Associated Press

Sinema took Wall Street money while killing tax on investors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat who single-handedly thwarted her party’s longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors, received nearly $1 million over the past year from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists whose taxes would have increased under the plan. For years, Democrats have promised to raise […]
11 hours ago
Employees stand around the turbine serviced in Canada for the Nordstream 1 natural gas pipeline in ...
Associated Press

Germans urged to cap heat in offices this winter to save gas

BERLIN (AP) — German businesses and public institutions should heat their offices no higher than 19 degrees Celsius (66.2 degrees Fahrenheit) this winter to help reduce the country’s consumption of natural gas, Germany’s economy minister said Saturday. Germany, the European Union’s biggest economy, is quickly trying to wean itself off using natural gas from Russia […]
11 hours ago
Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green, left, and his wife, Jamie, greet passing cars while campaigning in Hono...
Associated Press

Hawaii voters picking nominees in race to succeed Gov. Ige

HONOLULU (AP) — The candidates running in Saturday’s primary election to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. David Ige include a former first lady, a retired mixed martial arts champion and a congressman who moonlights as a Hawaiian Airlines pilot. Democratic U.S. Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele’s decision to run for governor has opened up his congressional seat representing […]
11 hours ago
A prototype trash can called Salt and Pepper is seen near the Embarcadero in San Francisco on July ...
Associated Press

What takes years and costs $20K? A San Francisco trash can

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — What takes four years to make and costs more than $20,000? A trash can in San Francisco. That costly, boxy bin is among six trash cans hitting San Francisco’s streets this summer in the city’s long saga in search of the perfect can. Overflowing trash cans are a common sight in […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: Officers in Texas fatally shoot man with rifle

RICHLAND HILLS, Texas (AP) — Police in suburban Fort Worth fatally shot a man who pointed a rifle at them, authorities said. The shooting Friday in Richland Hills happened as two officers were investigating reports of gunshots along a city street. They found a man carrying a rifle about two blocks away, according to Richland […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Baby gets heart transplant with a twist to fight rejection