Papworth Hospital celebrates 25 years of transplant success

THE world-renowned Papworth Hospital celebrated a 25-year milestone on Monday – its first heart-lung transplant operation. A special event was held at Robinson College, Cambridge, to mark the UK s first successful heart-lung transplant carried out in Apr

THE world-renowned Papworth Hospital celebrated a 25-year milestone on Monday - its first heart-lung transplant operation.

A special event was held at Robinson College, Cambridge, to mark the UK's first successful heart-lung transplant carried out in April 1984 by Professor John Wallwork.

The patient was 36-year-old Brenda Barber who recovered well and went on to a live a full and active life for a further 10 years.

"This is a landmark year for us," said Professor Wallwork, head of cardiothoracic surgery at Papworth. "We've come a long way since the first heart-lung transplant.


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"In 1984 heart-lung transplantation was very much in its infancy and there were only a handful of services in the world.

"In the past 25 years we have seen major developments in the way we preserve the heart and lungs for transplantation and significant steps to ensure the organs are not rejected by the patient.

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"We want to use this landmark to promote and encourage as many people as possible to register as an organ donor."

The event also looked at future scientific developments in heart-lung transplantation and was opened by Andrew Lansley, MP for South Cambridgeshire and shadow health secretary.

It brought together the great pioneers in the development of heart-lung transplantation, including Professor Bruce Reitz from Stanford University Medical Centre, California, who performed the world's first successful heart-lung transplant in 1981, Professor Wallwork, and Sir Terence English, who carried out Britain's first successful heart transplant at Papworth Hospital in 1979.

Sammi's story

ONE individual particularly grateful for the care she received at Papworth Hospital is Sammi Sparke from Eaton Socon.

The 30-year-old, who lives in Trafalgar Road, told The Hunts Post she owes her life to the hospital after she underwent a double-lung transplant at Papworth nearly seven years ago.

Sammi was on the hospital's transplant waiting list for more than two years and at one stage doctors told her family that did not think she would survive.

"I was very poorly and was confined to my bed with an oxygen ventilator," she said. "Just days before my transplant my mum and dad were told that I was going to die.

"Then we found out I was going to have a transplant and we were overjoyed.

"If I had not had it I would not be here now."

It took her just two months to get back on her feet after the transplant, and Sammi said she now lives life to the full.

Since her transplant, Sammi has fulfilled a life-long ambition of travelling the world, and pursued her love of photography by enrolling on a degree course in Blackpool.

She said: "I never gave up hope because I could never face the fact that I might die. My family and friends gave me the strength to keep going but it was Papworth that saved my life.

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