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Take five: The Royal Papworth Hospital transplant team setting new records

By Gemma Gardner

Some of the members of Royal Papworth Hospitals transplant team, supplied by Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
Some of the members of Royal Papworth Hospitals transplant team, supplied by Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Surgeons at Royal Papworth carried out five life-saving transplant operations in 36 hours in what is thought to be a record for the hospital.

More than 40 staff were involved, including five surgeons who transplanted two hearts, two double lungs and one single lung into five patients on the transplant waiting list. At one point, three theatres were running transplant surgery at the same time.

The intense period of activity in the transplant department took place between Sunday (February 25) afternoon and the early hours of Tuesday (February 27).

Pedro Catarino, clinical director of transplantation at Royal Papworth Hospital – which is celebrating its centenary in 2018 – carried out two of the transplants.

“I’ve never known it to be that busy,” he said. “Everyone pulled together amazingly – we even had staff who were not on call coming into the hospital on their day off to help, but that’s the Royal Papworth way.

“Five transplants is more than five per cent of our annual total, and in the space of a few hours. So far this [financial] year we have carried out 88 transplants and expect to do 95.”

Lead nurse for transplant Richard Quigley said the level of activity in the department was “unprecedented”.

“I’ve certainly never seen anything like it in the 10 years I’ve been at the hospital, we were pretty much back to back. Everyone came together and gave everything; some people worked without a break.

“It’s a tribute to not only everyone in the transplant team – the surgeons, doctors, nurses and perfusionists – but to staff working right across the hospital. And of course, to the donors and their families, whose actions have given these five people a second chance at life.

“I’d urge anyone who has not yet signed the NHS organ donor register to do so today, and to tell their family about their wishes.”

Royal Papworth Hospital will move to a new, state-of-the-art hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in September.

To join the NHS organ donor register, call 0300 123 23 23 or visit organdonation.nhs.uk to register online.


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