1st patient with man-made windpipe almost said no

By the Associated Press | July 15, 2011 | 7:29 AM EDT

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — The first person to receive an artificial windpipe says he almost refused the life-saving operation.

Doctors in Sweden announced last week they had transplanted a laboratory-made windpipe into Andemariam Teklesenbet Beyene, a 36-year-old Eritrean studying in Iceland. He had a large tumor almost completely blocking his windpipe.

His Icelandic doctor referred Beyene to a surgeon in Stockholm, who suggested replacing Beyene's windpipe with a man-made one. Beyene said Thursday he was nervous that had never been done before and nearly refused.

Beyene agreed to the revolutionary transplant after talking to his Icelandic doctor and to his family in Eritrea.

He says, "Then I just prayed and accepted it."