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.
Easton Sinnamon Heart Issues: What Are Easton Sinnamon Health Issues?
Easton Sinnamon was born with a weak heart as well as problems with his immune system. He spent his first seven months in hospital – some of it on life support – and needed numerous heart operations as well as treatment for recurrent infections that his body was unable to fight on its own.
His mother, Kaitlyn Sinnamon, recalls: “It helped some, but it was basically a band-aid for us to make it through transplant.”
His doctors applied to the medical regulatory body, the FDA, to carry out an experimental type of transplant that hadn’t been done in combination before, as far as they knew.
Since Easton needed a new heart and, independently, a new thymus gland, the FDA granted approval for the procedures that went ahead in August 2021, when Easton was six months old.