First UK newborn organ transplant


Published: Tuesday 20th January 2015 by The News Editor

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The first organ donation from a newborn baby in the UK has taken place.

The donation of the baby’s kidneys and cells from the liver took place at Hammersmith hospital in west London recently, with medics claiming there is potential for more successful transplants.

Dr Gaurav Atreja from the Division of Neonatology at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, writing in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood, said: “There is significant potential for donation among the UK neonatal population that is not being realised.”

The kidneys and hepatocytes – the main cells in the liver – were transplanted from the baby girl, who had been born by emergency Caesarean section weighing 6.8 lbs but died, to two separate patients.

Dr Gaurav Atreja said the successful operations had brought a positive experience from a tragedy.

“This turned out to be a positive thing for the family,” he told the BBC.

“They could see something positive out of a negative experience.

“We hope that neonatal units across the UK will actively start thinking about this noble cause.”

Other research published in the journal last year said small babies in need of organ donations have “the odds stacked against them” because of current UK guidelines.

Guidance by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges restricts UK medics from diagnosing brain stem death in children who die before they are two months old, researchers said.

Experts from Great Ormond Street Hospital, who said a diagnosis of brain stem death is the most common scenario for successful organ donation, noted that the restriction is in contrast to the rest of Europe, the United States and Australia, where medics are able to diagnose death in younger babies using brain criteria.

Because of this limitation, a UK baby in need of a life saving heart donation – where only small newborn hearts are suitable for transplant – needs to wait until a donation is flown in from somewhere else in Europe.

It is expected a review of the guidelines will be undertaken by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health this year.

Published: Tuesday 20th January 2015 by The News Editor

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