The tireless efforts of staff – some of whom came in to work on their day off - saw five life-saving organ transplants carried out in the space of 36 hours at the Royal Papworth Hospital this week.
The intense period of activity in the transplant department - believed to be a record at the hospital - took place between the afternoon of February 25 and the early hours of February 27.
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.
Mr 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 transplant department was “unprecedented” over the day and a half.
“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 – which will move to a new, state-of-the-art hospital on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in September - is the UK’s leading heart and lung hospital. It performs more adult heart transplants each year than any other hospital in the UK, and has the UK’s best survival rates for heart and lung transplants, according to NHS Blood and Transplant’s 2017 Annual Report on Cardiothoracic Transplantation.
To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, please telephone 0300 123 23 23, or go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk / www.organdonationscotland.org to register online.