Thymus transplantation is investigational therapy for infants born with no thymus. Because of the athymia, these infants lack T cell development and have a severe primary immunodeficiency.
Babies with complete DiGeorge Syndrome have no thymus, a gland important in the maturation of T cells specialized immune cells that help protect the body against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. The thymus teaches T cells to fight infection while not attacking the infant's own tissues. The thymus tissue for transplant comes from tissue that would otherwise be discarded during cardiac surgery on donor infants less than six months old. Pediatric surgeons will then transplant thin strips of donor thymus tissue into a recipient infant's thigh muscle, where it is most likely to develop a network of blood vessels to deliver nourishment and oxygen.