From the Editor 
Julie Lancaster In this issue we report on a surgical “world’s first” that is truly amazing, and we welcome NIFA’s new RNFA Program Director, Dean Parsons. Dean has been serving as a part-time instructor for NIFA for two and a half years; he’s a wonderful teacher and a real asset for the organization in this new role.

We bid a warm farewell to former Program Director Jeremy Gofton, who is getting married and wants to spend less time traveling. Jeremy has been an extremely popular and productive teacher and Program Director, as many of our readers know firsthand. Best wishes, Jeremy!

Julie Lancaster, Editor
First Synthetic Windpipe Surgery

“Surgeons in Sweden have carried out the world’s first synthetic organ transplant,” states Michelle Roberts, a health reporter for BBC News in Stockholm, reporting on a windpipe transplant at Karolinska University Hospital in June. The surgery was led by Professor Paolo Macchiarini from Italy, who had executed 10 windpipe transplants in the past using donor organs.

For this surgery, Macchiarini engaged the services of scientists at University College London, who used 3-dimensional scans of a patient’s windpipe to create a scaffold or structure to use as the basis for the synthetic organ. The 36-year old patient was Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene, an African man currently living in Iceland and studying for a Ph.D. His tumor was blocking his breathing and had resisted aggressive chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

“Using these images, the scientists . . . were able to craft a perfect copy of Mr. Beyene’s trachea and two main bronchi out of glass,” Roberts reports. “This was then flown to Sweden and soaked in a solution of stem cells

taken from the patient’s bone marrow. After two days, the millions of holes in the porous windpipe had been seeded with the patient’s own tissue.

“Dr Alex Seifalian and his team used this fragile structure to create a replacement for the patient, whose own windpipe was ravaged by an inoperable tumor. . . During a 12-hour operation Professor Macchiarini removed all of the tumor and the diseased windpipe and replaced it with the tailor-made replica.” The patient was doing well a month after the surgery.

Besides eliminating the need for a donor, this regenerative technology made it unnecessary to use anti-rejection drugs, and such a custom-made windpipe can be prepared extremely rapidly–within a week, Roberts reports, adding that Professor Macchiarini  says  many other organs could be repaired or replaced in the same way.

Click on these links to read the entire BBC News article and a news story about the same surgery from Karolinska University Hospital.

Faculty Spotlight: Dean Parsons, New RNFA Program Director


Dean Parsons and students
Dean Parsons and NIFA students

Name:  Dean Parsons
Credentials:  RN, CNOR, RNFA, RNAS-C


Graduated from NIFA’s RNFA program: 2007


City and State:  Omaha, NE
Current Positions:  
*  Program Director, NIFA
*  General OR, Alegent Health, Omaha, NE

Path to Becoming an RNFA:  When I was 10 years old I was hit by a car. I was choking on my tongue and a nurse pulled it out and saved my life. I also had several broken bones and was in the hospital for quite some time. That experience has always stayed with me and influenced my later career choice.


After high school, I went to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and studied for a couple of years to become an elementary teacher. Then I met my wife, who is also a teacher, and at that point I decided to pursue a career as a registered nurse while she was working on her master’s degree. From that point on, I continued to refine my medical skills and worked as many hours as I could to help support our family (we now have four children, ages 5 to 12).

From 1992 to 1998 I worked at Creighton University Medical Center, mostly in cardiac OR. Then I moved to Alegent Health, where, from 2000 until about a year ago, I was clinical coordinator for cardiac surgery.
Recently I made the decision to pursue a Nurse Practitioner degree, which dovetailed perfectly with the opportunity to serve as RNFA Program Director at NIFA. Alegent allowed me to transfer to a part-time, general OR position, with a future focus on robotics and orthopedics. This provides me time to pursue my studies as well as work with NIFA. In addition, I am serving on an AORN committee focusing on Core Curriculum for RNFAs.

Working with NIFA:  I’ve been an instructor for NIFA for about two and a half years, and I am looking forward to working with many more students as Program Director. I really enjoy teaching and seeing its effect on so many people. I love to see the light go on in a student’s eyes; I love to help make that happen.