When two-year-old Owen Stark was airlifted to hospital suffering from heart and lung failure doctors knew they had almost no hope of saving him. The youngster was suffering from idiopathic pulmonary hypertension - or high blood pressure in the lungs - a disease almost unheard of in children. His parents Tonya and Justin could only watch as doctors at St Louis Childrens Hospital fought to keep him alive. Owen needed a lung transplant immediately but it could be months before they found a suitable donor organ. Doctors at Washington University decided to attempt a world-first by fitting the youngster with an artificial lung to buy him some time. Their efforts in the summer of 2010 are reported in the June 2011 issue of The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. Doctors said: 'We knew that his chances of survival were getting smaller and smaller. So a team, led by Dr Charles Huddleston decided to fit Owen with an artificial lung. It had never been used in the US before or on a child that young. The lung, made by Novalung of Germany, 'breathes outside the patients body to add oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the blood. It works without a pump using the bodys natural heartbeat to circulate blood. When the toddler had been on the artificial lung for 23 days he accidentally kicked off one of the devices connectors. This resulted in Owen having a stroke and required swift medical action. However, when he was taken to the operating room to reconnect the device, Dr Huddleston found Owens lungs had healed enough to allow adequate blood flow on their own. MO