Experts in Birmingham are encouraging people to sign up to the organ donation register and give the gift of life after the milestone 5,000th liver transplant took place in the city.
Eleven-year-old Morgan Hughes, from Tregarth, close to Bangor in North Wales, is now back home after undergoing the successful procedure at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Surgeons at University Hospitals Birmingham carried out the 5,0001st procedure on the same day earlier this summer and, like Morgan, 28-year-old Raymond Chapman, from High Wycombe, has recovered well.
Morgan had a rare genetic liver disease, progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) type two, which was diagnosed when he was seven-months-old.
The illness meant he was jaundiced and itchy, had no energy, wasn’t absorbing vitamins, and was sleeping a lot. In recent months, he needed a new liver because his liver failed meaning he couldn’t do lots of things other children his age might have been doing, such as playing with his friends.
Since his diagnosis, Morgan and his family have been making the 300-mile round trip to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, part of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, for regular treatment.
Mum, Mandy Griffiths, a primary school teacher, said:
“I will be forever grateful to the wonderful and dedicated Liver Team on Ward 8 at Birmingham Children’s Hospital – to all the surgeons, consultants, nurses, physiotherapists and play specialists who have all played a vital role during Morgan’s transplant and subsequent recovery.
“The care he’s received has been second-to-none and we, as a family, will always hold the team and the hospital dear in our hearts.
“Words simply cannot express the gratitude we feel towards the donor and their family for making the decision to donate their organs. This highlights the importance of ensuring that your name is on the organ donation list.
“It has changed our lives forever and has given Morgan the chance of a happy and healthy future.”
The 5,000 liver transplants have been carried out at both Birmingham Children’s Hospital and University Hospitals Birmingham – where the majority have taken place. The work of both teams makes the city the most active in Europe.
The very first transplant in Birmingham was carried out at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on 19 January 1982 by pioneering former surgeon Professor Paul McMaster and team. Having previously worked in Cambridge, Paul came to Queen Elizabeth to work with liver specialist Professor Elwyn Elias to develop services at the Trust.
The world-renowned paediatric Liver Unit was set up in 1989 by Professor Deirdre Kelly CBE when the first paediatric procedure took place at the children’s hospital. Over the last 35 years survival rates have significantly improved thanks to advances in pioneering treatment with one-year survival rates for both adults and children at around 95 per cent. The number of operations taking place in the city has increased from three in 1982 to now an average of four each week.
Mr Khalid Sharif, Clinical Lead for Liver Services and Hepatology at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, was one of a number of specialists from both hospitals presenting at the International Liver Symposium held in the city earlier this week.
He said: “Both ourselves and our colleagues at University Hospitals Birmingham are very proud to have carried out this milestone procedure for the city. It’s a real testament to the skills, dedication and commitment of all of our teams involved.
“What this does really emphasise is the importance of the organ donor register. Without people signing up these operations would simply not be possible. We’d like to say thank-you to all of our donors and families who have given the gift of life to others.
“Our message to everyone this Organ Donation Week is to find out more, sign up and let your loved ones know of your wishes. We’re already able to change the lives of so many children, young people and adults but we could do even more if more people are registered.”
To find out more or register on the national organ donation list, which takes around two minutes, list visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call Organ Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23.