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New 'lifesaver' at Addenbrooke's - 50 years on from first liver transplant

It's 50 years since the first liver transplant in Europe was performed at Cambridge's Addenbrooke's Hospital - and now it's bringing a new piece of state-of-the-art technology into routine use.

It's called a 'perfusion machine' and it could save dozens more lives every year.

The machine will help newly donated livers survive for longer and, crucially, enable doctors to test how well they function.

It also means that livers that might otherwise be dismissed as unsuitable, including those from older donors, could be deemed healthy enough to save a life.

It comes five decades after pioneering surgeon Professor Sir Roy Calne, who still lives in Cambridgeshire, led the first liver transplant on May 2, 1968.

He dedicated his life to turning radical and seemingly impossible surgery into regular practice.

The pioneering surgeon behind the first liver transplant inspects the new machine at Addenbrooke's. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"The medical world has made some extraordinary advances since that first transplant 50 years ago and I am proud to come back to Addenbrooke's and learn that the Trust is still pioneering new techniques to help patients."

– Professor Sir Roy Calne
The first liver transplant took place at Addenbrooke's in 1968. Credit: .

Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust has announced the launch of a £250,000 appeal to run the state-of- the art 'perfusion machine'.

"The liver perfusion machine will allow potentially an additional 54 transplants to be carried out over two years. That's 54 people being given the chance of a better quality of life.

"It is apt that this appeal coincides with the 50th anniversary of the first successful liver transplant in Europe and we think the public will embrace it."

– Shelly Thake, Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust