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Deaths reported following experimental windpipe surgery

It has been reported today that at least two patients have died following experimental surgery which, it was hoped, would treat a condition affecting their tracheas.

Posted on 31 October 2018

Keziah Shorten and Shauna Davidson were both taking part in clinical trials for a stem cell-engineered trachea transplant. Shauna, who was only 15 years old at the time of her surgery, died two weeks after the procedure in 2012. However, it has transpired that Keziah had also passed away following the same treatment two years earlier in 2010.
It is alleged that the researchers failed to inform Shauna Davidson’s family of Keziah Shorten’s earlier death after undergoing the same treatment.
It is further reported that the researchers, who are affiliated with University College London (UCL), played down the tragedies, claiming that Shauna Davidson’s surgery had been 'successful' and the cause of death unrelated to the treatment. It has been suggested that this may have been in order to secure additional Government funding for the research.
UCL conducted their own review of the treatment and the resulting report was published in September 2017. The report contained a series of recommendations which UCL state they are acting upon. The General Medical Council have also confirmed that they are now investigating the matter.
Commenting on the news, Gene Matthews, a partner at Leigh Day who specialises in representing individuals who have affected by participating in clinical research, said: 
“These terrible tragedies once again shine the spotlight on the world of clinical research. Transparency is at all times a fundamental requirement with any experimental treatment. Were these patients properly informed of the risks and benefits of this treatment before they agreed to take part? Did commercial considerations influence how the research was reported?
"These troubling reports raise many questions, and the families who have lost their loved ones deserve to be provided with the answers.”

This story was amended on 2.11.18