Organs from a recently-deceased baby have been successfully transplanted in to two patients.
In a procedure described as a milestone in neonatal care, a newborn baby girl’s kidneys and liver cells were given to two separate recipients after her heart stopped beating.
It is the first time in Britain that transplant surgeons have carried out such an operation involving a new-born child. Despite newborn organ donations being performed in the US, Germany and Australia, doctors say guidance about the diagnosis of newborn death in the UK may hamper life-saving operations.
Experts argue there is potential for more life-saving donations, but say current UK guidelines are prohibitive.
Prof James Neuberger of NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We are pleased the first transplant of organs from a newborn in the UK was a success and we praise the brave decision of the family to donate their baby’s organs.
“The sad reality is for everybody to get the lifesaving transplant they are desperately in need of, more families who are facing the tragic loss of their young child will need to agree to donation.”
The parents of the deceased gave permission for the life-support to be switched off and for the baby girl’s organs to be used by the National Organ Retrieval Service after death had been confirmed.
In the last year, 4,655 organ transplants were carried out in Britain from donations made by 2,466 living and deceased organ donors. These included 206 heart transplants, 3,257 kidney transplants and 924 liver transplants.
At the present time, about 10,000 people in Britain are in need of an organ transplant and each year about 1,000 people die while waiting for a transplant.