From the Heart at Papworth Hospital: UK pioneer in heart transplants

Papworth Hospital Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Since performing the UK's first successful heart transplant in 1979, Papworth hospital near Cambridge has been at the forefront of organ transplants and remains the UK's largest specialist cardiothoracic hospital and the UK’s leading adult heart and lung transplantation centre.

In 1916 the Cambridgeshire Tuberculosis Colony was founded in the village of Bourn, it was two years later in 1918, after further expansion at Papworth Hall, that the hospital really began.

Brenda Barber, leaves Papworth Hospital with her husband following her heart and lung transplant operation in 1984 Credit: PA

Papworth's organ transplant history:

  • 1979 – Papworth performs the UK’s first successful heart transplant operation

  • 1984 – Papworth performs the UK’s first successful heart and lung transplant

  • 1986 – Papworth performs the world’s first heart, lung and liver transplant

  • 1988 - Papworth Hospital’s first single lung transplant

  • 1991 - Papworth Hospital’s first bi-lateral lung transplant

  • 1992 - Papworth Hospital’s first Ventricular Assist Device implant

  • 2006 – Papworth performs the UK’s first beating heart transplant, using the organ care system

  • 2010 – Papworth’s first clinical EVLP case

  • 2011 – UK’s First Total Artificial Heart patient goes home

  • 2011 - Papworth celebrates treating 2,000 transplanted patients

Matthew Green was the first person in the UK to receive a Total Artificial Heart at Papworth Hospital in 2011

Now the hospital sees over 53,400 outpatients each year from across the UK and employs 1,628 people. Papworth Hospital is the only centre in the UK currently certified to implant the Total Artificial Heart. The Total Artificial Heart is unlike a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), which only helps the failing left ventricle. The Total Artificial Heart replaces both the left and right heart ventricles and takes over the pumping of blood throughout the whole body. It is controlled by a pack outside of the body which is small enough to be carried by the patient allowing them to leave hospital if they are well enough.

A Total Artificial Heart at Papworth Hospital where patient Matthew Green became the first person in the UK to receive one Credit: Sean Dempsey/PA Wire

Currently on the transplant waiting list Papworth Hospital alone has:

  • 7 people waiting for single lung transplants

  • 9 people waiting for heart and lung transplants

  • 24 people waiting for bilateral lung transplants

  • 47 people waiting for heart transplants