Birmingham medics 'revive' donor liver after 200-mile journey

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham said the new technique could allow livers to be transplanted that were previously considered "unviable"

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Doctors have successfully transplanted a "revived" donor liver into a patient.

Surgeons at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, pumped warmed blood through the organ after it was transported 200 miles (322 km) in an ice box.

They said the liver - taken from a cardiac death victim - would previously have been deemed "unviable".

NHS England said more work was needed to assess the potential impact of the technology on standard transplant practice.

A similar procedure was carried out at King's College Hospital, London, in March last year to keep a donor liver at body temperature.

But medics in Birmingham said their procedure differed because the donor liver was placed on ice before it was "revived" seven hours later, by a machine which provides nutrients and oxygenated blood to the organ.

Consultant Mr Thamara Perera, who performed the procedure, said it was the first successful transplant of its kind.

Thamara Perera Surgeon Thamara Perera said the procedure was the first successful example in the world

Normally, he said, organs kept on ice for long periods of time presented a higher chance of failure.

"The warm blood revitalises the liver by taking out the coldness from being in an ice box, but also nourishes it through the oxygenated blood," he said.

"It is able to simulate the blood supply within a real body."

Mr Perera added the operation was a "world first" with "exciting" implications for organ donation.

Recipient Satpal Mahal, a 46-year-old liver cirrhosis patient from Walsall, was discharged from hospital 11 days after his transplant.

"I have been told that it has been very successful, so it's a world breaker," he said.

James Neuberger, associate medical director at NHS Blood and Transplant said it marked "a major opportunity to improve the number and quality of organs available for transplant".

However, he said it was too early to predict the number of lives that could be saved.

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