Memorial Held For Baltimore Man Who Received Synthetic Trachea

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—A sad farewell for a Baltimore man who helped change cancer treatment worldwide. WJZ first brought you the story of Christopher Lyles, who received a revolutionary transplant in his fight against a rare cancer.

Gigi Barnett explains how Lyles’ legacy still lives on.

“So at this moment we say thank you, Lord.”  It’s a song of gratitude for Christopher Lyles’ life after a hard battle with a rare and aggressive throat cancer. His family and friends gathered at Morgan State University for one final good-bye on Friday.

“I miss him every minute of the day,” said Erica Lyles Greene, Lyles’ sister.

WJZ first featured Lyles last November. He was headed to Sweden for a groundbreaking trachea transplant. Doctors there used Lyles’ own stem cells to grow cells on plastic and then perform a synthetic windpipe transplant with the material.

Lyles was only the second person in the world and the first from the United States to have the procedure.

But earlier this month, doctors quickly admitted him to the hospital again. Days later, he died.

“He knew that he was sacrificing his life to save all of our lives. That stem cell research is important,” his sister said.

Lyles was a 2004 graduate of Morgan State University. Now the university has a science scholarship in his honor.

“His time with us was indeed fleeting, but let there be no doubt he left an imprint on this university, and our culture is indeed indelible,” said Dr. David Wilson, Morgan State President.

Lyles’ transplant was considered his only hope of survival by doctors. Some of his friends said they thought he would pull through because he remained optimistic until the very end.

Lyles was 30 years old.

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