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Test-tube hearts

We are learning how to grow organs in laboratories instead of relying on donors, says Philip Hunter

By Philip Hunter   February 2014

Alexander Seifalian with the glass mould of a trachea built by his team at UCL © STELLA PICTURES

When a patient suffers from a malfunctioning internal organ, the best course of action can sometimes be to replace it. The ability to do this is not new—the first heart transplant was performed by the South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard in 1967. The first kidney transplant had taken place 17 years previously and a liver had been transplanted in 1963; but unlike the heart transplant these involved more straightforward procedures, without the complexity of reconnecting…

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