News‎ > ‎myEdinburgh News‎ > ‎

15 transplants, 15 days, 15 lives

posted 29 Nov 2010, 04:19 by Alistar Frater
Surgeons at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh have performed 15 transplants in 15 days.

Fourteen patients have undergone 15 life saving transplants in 15 days, thanks to organ donors who have “signed up to save a life”.

The life saving operations took place between 28 October and 11 November 2010 at the hospital’s transplant unit and all patients are now doing well.

Ten patients received liver transplants, three had kidney transplants and one patient had a combined pancreas and kidney transplant, meaning transplant staff carried out 15 transplants in just 15 days.

And they took place as NHS Lothian launched a new campaign to urge more people to give the gift of life by joining the donor register. Scotland-wide there’s also a national campaign to increase the number of people on the register.

John Forsythe, consultant transplant surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, and lead clinician for organ donation in Scotland, said it was a record period for the transplant team at the hospital.

He said: “This is an amazing level of activity for the Edinburgh Transplant Unit and it is very welcome news for the 14 patients who received a life saving organ transplant. Thanks to the selfless generosity of organ donors, 14 individuals and all those connected to them, be it husbands, wives, sons, daughters, parents, colleagues, team-mates, will see at first hand the miracle of organ donation.

“Whilst this is great news we must remember that there are still around 650 Scots waiting for a transplant and three people die unnecessarily every day while waiting for an organ to become available – we can all help change this.

“The more people we have on the Register, the better the chance of saving lives. I would urge everyone to join the Register today. You can join online or even by text. It takes two minutes and you could save up to eight lives.

“Finally, I would like to thank the whole transplant team at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh who worked tirelessly over this 15 day period”.

The health board has teamed up with staff, scores of big businesses and organisations, as well as patients to kick start the “Sign Up to Save A Life” campaign.

Ten-year-old Craig Watt, from Dunfermline in Fife, underwent a liver transplant aged just 10 months, and his family have told his story as part of the campaign.

Craig was born with a rare condition called biliary atresia in which the common bile duct between the liver and the small intestine is blocked or absent.

Parents Lynn and Iain were devastated when doctors gave them the news that their son had suffered liver failure and urgently needed a liver transplant.

Admin and credit control worker, Lynn said: “When Craig was born it was a natural birth there were no complications and we left the hospital with what we thought was a healthy baby boy.

“When the whites of his eyes turned yellow we took him to the GP and were immediately referred to the Sick Kids Hospital. That was when we realised how serious his condition was. “

Craig underwent a procedure to try to unblock his bile duct, however it was unsuccessful and he was put on the transplant waiting list.

The mum of four added: ”We lived from home waiting for a match for his liver. One day we got the call. Everything happened so quickly. We were picked up by an ambulance and then flown straight to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

“Craig received his transplant at just 10-months-old and so far he has never looked back, to look at him you would never know.”

Craig’s father Iain, a sales manager, added: ”Organ donation was never an issue discussed in our family. I think many people are ignorant to it because they think its nothing to do with them - we didn’t either until it happened to us.

Craig added: “It is really important to be an organ donor because it saved my life and it can save other people’s lives as well.”

Lothian already has one of the highest numbers of people on the register in Scotland so far, but NHS Lothian wants to increase the number from 42 per cent to at least 50 per cent of the population.

NHS Lothian has asked the heads of household name businesses, organisations, colleges and universities to help increase the number by encouraging their staff to learn more about organ donation.

A dedicated website,
text number, mobile phone app and real-life short films have been created to make it as easy as possible for organisations to join in. You can also sign up at

And for potential donors on the go, it couldn’t be simpler - they can join up by texting “fifty” on their mobile phone to number 61611.

The news comes as the number of Scots on the NHS Organ Donor Register reaches an all time high of more than 1.8 million.

Recent research found 96 percent of people would take an organ if they needed one but only 36 percent of Scots have joined the NHS Organ Donor Register.