Kaitlyn McNamara

Organ Regeneration

Kaitlyn McNamara had a new functional bladder constructed from her own adult stem cells.

Atala is working to grow 20 different tissues and organs, including blood vessels and hearts, in the laboratory, according to the university.

"We're not using any type of stem cell population or cloning techniques, but mainly the patient's own cells that we're using to create these organs and put them back into the patient," Atala told CNN.

Because the bladders are grown from a patient's own cells, there is no risk of rejection, as in a traditional transplant.

More studies will be needed before growing replacement organs becomes routine, but Atala said the procedure eventually might help ease shortages of organs available for transplant.

"Over the last decade, the number of patients that actually ended up on the wait list for an organ transplant increased threefold, and in the same time period the number of transplants remained basically flat," he said. "So a lot of these regenerative medicine technologies do hold some promise in at least making a dent in some of these shortages."

If you ask Kaitlyne McNamara, the technique has already fulfilled its promise.

"I'm happy. I'm like, 'I can run around and do a lot of things that I wasn't able to do because I was always afraid that I was going to have an accident or something,' " she said. "Now I can just go and go out with my friends. Go do whatever I want and not have to have worries about it."

CNN's Stephanie Smith contributed to this report.


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