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Transplant day is quadruple success

23 May 2018
Cambridge University Hospitals performed four liver transplants in the 48 hours surrounding its 50th anniversary celebration of the first procedure in Europe.

The liver for the second operation was kept alive using the Trust’s newly unveiled perfusion machine, meaning surgeons could be confident it would still be in good condition when they had finished the first.

The quadruple success graphically illustrates the importance of a £250,000 appeal launched by Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust to fund vital consumables – such as pipes and filters – which the machine uses during each procedure.

(From left) Shelly Thake, Professor Sir Roy Calne, Professor Chris Watson and Andy Butler

A total of five surgeons, Prof Chris Watson, Vasilis Kosmoliaptsis, Emmanuel Huguet, Andy Butler and Asif Jah, led the operations, which each lasted up to eight hours.

They were backed by a small army of other specialists comprising theatre nurses, anaesthetists, intensive care staff, the specialist nurses who worked with donors’ families and the transplant coordinators, who play a key role setting everything up.

Some had been at the transplant celebrations that day (2 May) including Prof Watson, who addressed assembled guests including the pioneer of liver transplantation himself, Sir Roy Calne.
All the patients, two men and two women, aged 50 to 67 and from various parts of the country, are said to be doing well following their surgery.

Professor Chris Watson, who developed the machine perfusion programme with Andy Butler, said: “This was a classic example of how important perfusion is. The team was able to complete the first transplant and catch their breath before transplanting the perfused liver, which remained in good condition. It is a significant step forward in transplantation, which is good news for the patient and the clinical teams.”

Lead nurse in charge of the 15-strong specialist Transplant Co-ordinator Team – often described as the ‘air traffic controllers’ of transplantation  - Stephen Bond said: “It was an incredibly busy time and fantastic that we were able to work together to do so many transplants in such a short time. However, the biggest thanks go to the donors and their families.”

Acting Chief Executive of Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust, Shelly Thake, said she was overwhelmed by the public’s response to the £250,000 appeal. Contributions have come from a golden wedding couple who asked for donations rather than gifts, to sports fans who endured sponsored feats of stamina.

She said: “It is wonderful to know that within hours of the appeal being launched the perfusion machine was being used to help save a life. It is a clear sign of just how important the equipment – and our appeal to help run it – is viewed by the public.”

Anyone who wants to make a donation to the appeal can visit www.act4addenbrookes.org.uk/transplant