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UK: Transplant first as five lives saved from two donors in 24 hours

"Surgeons in Birmingham have carried out five life-saving transplant operations from two donors in under 24 hours in a European first."
"The British team performed two stomach, bowel and liver transplants on five different patients, including an eight-month-old baby, on the same day in a remarkable feat of coordination. The series of operations began on June 11 when, at around midnight, surgeons at Birmingham Children's Hospital and University Hospitals Birmingham were told that two donors had become available.

Next, in simultaneous operations at around 8am, donor one gave half a liver to eight-month-old Lubaya Turpin and Sandie Lee Smith, 30, from Cheltenham, Glos, received the other half.

In a 'domino' transplant, Mrs Smith's liver - which was dangerous to her because her body could not process toxins - was then given to Sean O'Brien, 43, from Taunton, in Somerset.

The second team of surgeons, meanwhile, took a liver, pancreas and intestine from the second donor and gave them to a 14-year-old boy from Bradford.

The operations were carried out by surgeons Darius Mirza, Khalid Sharif, Paolo Muiesan and Simon Bramell with a team of consultants.

Four of the patients involved in the procedures met up for the first time on Thursday at Birmingham Children's Hospital.

Mr O'Brien, who has one child, was diagnosed with liver cancer four years ago but does not qualify for a healthy organ on the donor list because he is terminally-ill.

He said: 'Sometimes words aren't enough. I hugged her. I feel incredibly grateful, incredibly happy and incredibly humble.'

'After the surgery my wife Sam said she'd never seen such a big smile from someone on a ventilator and I've been smiling ever since.'

'It's humbling to think at a time of immense grief, families can be so selfless and think about how their loved one could enhance someone else's life.'

It is the first time that this combination of transplants has ever been performed in one day and only fifth time in history that five successful transplants have been carried out in 24 hours.

Mrs Smith said: 'I feel great, like I've got new energy and can spend more time with my kids instead of being in and out of hospital.'

Lubaya's father Dwayne Turpin,23, Birmingham, added: 'Her eyes used to be yellow now that's all cleared up and they are bright white again. She has a lot more energy whereas before she would be sluggish.'

'She's been a very lucky baby.'

Mr Mirza, the surgeon, said: 'In the UK the organ donor rate is one of the lowest in Europe.'

'People are not as generous as they used to be. Education is important to inform people of the benefits being on the register can bring to other people's lives.'

'I wish we could do domino transplants more often. Instead of discarding organs they can be used by someone else taking them off the waiting list.'

There have been a total of 29 domino transplants in Britain but this is the first case where a damaged liver has been successfully transplanted.

To sign up on the Organ Donor Register call 0300 123 23 23 or visit"

Article by Andy Bloxham
15 Aug 2009

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