A heart surgeon has given a baby a ‘chance at life’ in a ‘world first’ operation using stem cells from placentas.

Finlay Pantry was born with a heart defect, meaning the two main arteries that supply blood to his lungs and body were in the wrong place.

At just four days old, he underwent his first heart surgery to reposition the major arteries.

Unfortunately, the newborn suffered complications and his heart function rapidly deteriorated, leaving him in intensive care for weeks, on medication and a ventilator to keep his heart going.

Finlay Pantry (pictured with his mother, Melissa Hood) was born with a heart defect, meaning the two main arteries that supply blood to his lungs and body were in the wrong place.

Finlay Pantry (pictured with his mother, Melissa Hood) was born with a heart defect, meaning the two main arteries that supply blood to his lungs and body were in the wrong place.

When he was just four days old, he underwent his first heart surgery to reposition the major arteries

When he was just four days old, he underwent his first heart surgery to reposition the major arteries

Heart defects: The most common type of congenital heart disease that occurs before a baby is born

Heart defects are the most common type of anomaly that occurs before a baby is born, with around 13 babies diagnosed with congenital heart disease every day in the UK.

Currently, for most children, surgeons can perform open-heart surgery to temporarily repair the problem, but the materials used for patches or replacement heart valves are not completely biological and cannot grow with the child.

This means that a child may undergo the same thermal surgery several times during childhood, which may result in a hospital stay for several weeks.

But thanks to a doctor, he is now a happy two-year-old looking forward to Christmas with his family in Corsham, Wiltshire.

Professor Massimo Caputo of the Bristol Heart Institute told Finlay’s mother that they could try using stem cell ‘scaffolding’, a pioneering technique to repair heart defects.

The procedure involves stem cells from a plasma bank injected directly into Finley’s heart in hopes of helping damaged blood vessels grow back.

Amazingly, Finlay has been weaned off the meds and air weaned off – and is now a ‘happy growing little boy’.

Finley’s mum Melissa Hood said: ‘We almost lost Finley when he was just two months old. Doctors called us to the room and told us that they had done everything they could.

Massimo came to see us and explained that there was an option – to put stem cells into the left side of Finley’s heart.

He cautioned us that he cannot predict what the outcome will be. But we had nothing to lose. We had to try to give Finlay the best chance to live.’

Within two weeks of the stem cell treatment, the family noticed a change in Finley, and when he was just six months old, he was sent home for the first time on a machine that still helps him breathe at night.

Unfortunately, the newborn suffered complications and his heart function rapidly deteriorated, leaving him in intensive care for weeks, relying on drugs and a ventilator to keep his heart going.

Unfortunately, the newborn suffered complications and his heart function rapidly deteriorated, leaving him in intensive care for weeks, relying on drugs and a ventilator to keep his heart going.

Professor Massimo Caputo, of the Bristol Heart Institute, told Finley's mum that they could try using pioneering stem cell 'scaffolding' to repair heart defects.

Professor Massimo Caputo, of the Bristol Heart Institute, told Finley’s mum that they could try using pioneering stem cell ‘scaffolding’ to repair heart defects.

‘We can’t thank Massimo enough,’ said Miss Hudd. I believe, had it not been for stem cell therapy, Finley would not be with us today.

Finley is so polite and so funny – he’s a real heartthrob and I tell her that all the time.

“We don’t know what the future will bring, but we are so grateful that Finlay’s life has turned around after stem cell treatment because he might not have it any other way.”

Heart defects are the most common type of anomaly that occurs before a baby is born, with around 13 babies diagnosed with congenital heart disease every day in the UK.

Finley is now a happy two-year-old and lives with his family in Corsham, Wiltshire.

Finley is now a happy two-year-old and lives with his family in Corsham, Wiltshire.

The stem cell injection therapy received by Finley inspired Prof. Caputo to develop stem cell patches that can grow into a child's heart as they grow, requiring repeated surgeries and several days in the hospital recovering after each one.

The stem cell injection therapy received by Finley inspired Prof. Caputo to develop stem cell patches that can grow into a child’s heart as they grow, requiring repeated surgeries and several days in the hospital recovering after each one.

Currently, for most children, surgeons can perform open-heart surgery to temporarily repair the problem, but the materials used for patches or replacement heart valves are not completely biological and cannot grow with the child.

This means that a child may undergo the same thermal surgery several times during childhood, which may result in a hospital stay for several weeks.

Finlay’s stem cell injection therapy inspired Prof. Caputo to develop stem cell patches that can grow into a baby’s heart as they grow, eliminating repeated surgeries and days in the hospital recovering after each one.

Professor Caputo has now been awarded £750,000 by the British Heart Foundation. The aim is to get patients ready for testing, so clinical trials could start in the next two years.

Professor Caputo has now been awarded £750,000 by the British Heart Foundation.  The aim is to get patients ready for testing, so clinical trials could start in the next two years.

Professor Caputo has now been awarded £750,000 by the British Heart Foundation. The aim is to get patients ready for testing, so clinical trials could start in the next two years.

He said: ‘For years, families have come to us asking why their child needed repeated heart surgeries.

While each operation can be lifesaving, the experience can be incredibly stressful for both the child and their parents.

‘We believe our stem cell patches are the solution to these problems.’

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Stem cells are helping researchers fight disease and study the development of mammals by creating organs for human transplants.

Stem cells are the body’s raw materials – a basic type of cell that can change into another type of specialized cell through a process known as differentiation.

Think of stem cells as a new ball of clay, which can be molded and turned into any cell in the body – including bone, muscle, skin and more.

This ability has been the focus of much medical research in recent decades.

They grow in embryos as embryonic stem cells, helping the rapidly growing baby to create the millions of different types of cells it needs to develop before birth.

The embryonic stem cells used in research are obtained from unused embryos, which are due to the process of in vitro fertilization and are donated to science.

In adults, they act as repair cells, replacing what we lose through injury or aging.

For adults, there are two types: one comes from fully developed tissues such as the brain, skin, and bones; Another includes multipotent stem cells.

Pluripotent stem cells are transformed in the laboratory to act as embryonic stem cells.

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