– last updated Wed 27 Aug 2014
A hospital in Birmingham has become the first in the world to successfully revive a liver for a transplant using a groundbreaking new technique.
Surgeons at Queen Elizabeth Hospital successfully performed a liver transplant on Satpal Mahal after pumping oxygenated blood through the organ.
It had made a journey of more than 200 miles inside an ice box.
The seven-hour delay in transporting the organ would likely have led to the failure of the operation under normal circumstances, liver specialists said.
But after using the “warm blood” machine, the surgery team were able to transplant the liver into Mahal, 46, who had been on a waiting list for more than two months.
The pioneering operation was completed on Satpal Mahal. Credit: Queen Elizabeth Hospital
The unique process took 18 hours from the organ first being retrieved from the donor to the successful completion of the operation.
Mahal, from Walsall in the West Midlands, said he was very confident prior to the procedure even though it was a new technique, adding that he was enjoying life as a “world breaker”.
Thamara Perera led a team of 12 in completing the groundbreaking operation.
While other transplant centres have carried out the same technique on discarded livers, surgeons at Queen Elizabeth are the first to successfully transplant a revived liver graft from a donor into a patient.
Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where the unique operation took place. Credit: PA Wire
Pumping blood at body temperatures into organs has been found to minimise damage once they are put in cold storage where the oxygen supply has stopped.
A machine called Organ Assist pumps the blood through two blood vessels, which “revitalises” the organ by simulating the blood supply within a real body.
Surgeons said Mr Mahal’s condition after the operation was similar to any other patient receiving a traditional transplant.
Mahal, who runs his own import and export business, first experienced problems with his liver three years ago but his condition rapidly deteriorated earlier this year.
“I was very confident even though this was a new procedure,” he said.
“I knew that I was in the best place with the right physicians and staff. And I have been told that it has been very successful, so it’s a world breaker.”