30th anniversary of the Freeman Hospital's heart and lung transplant programme

A celebratory luncheon is taking place at the Gosforth Park Marriott Hotel on Saturday 9 May 2015, to celebrate a remarkable achievement which has put Newcastle and the North East on the world map – the 30th Anniversary of the Freeman Hospital’s Heart and Lung Transplant Programme.

The Freeman Heart and Lung Transplant Association (FHLTA) are hosting the luncheon which will be attended by 300 patients and staff.

Derek Airey, Chairman of the FHLTA explains: "On behalf of the patients and their families I am privileged to say thank you to the Freeman Transplant Team for their expertise, care and dedication over the last 30 years.

"The first heart transplant at the Freeman Hospital was performed in May 1985 by Mr. Christopher McGregor, on a local lady – Pauline Duffy who survived 25 years. The Evening Chronicle then set up Operation Heartbeat, which funded further transplants, and they are continuing to promote awareness with their ' Be a Donor' campaign. 

"Since 1985, 2,000 heart and lung transplants have been performed in both children and adults, which include the first successful single lung transplant in Europe, and the first successful surviving baby heart transplant, Kaylee, who has just celebrated her 28th birthday! The Institute of Transplantation, which now houses the heart and lung transplant programme, is regarded as a centre of excellence and is world renowned, due to an extensive research programme supporting clinical expertise."

The Freeman Hospital is one of only two UK centres performing paediatric transplants, and is the main centre in the UK transplanting adults born with congenital heart disease.

The success of this programme is due to several important factors – Government and private funding and the vision of Sir Leonard Fenwick and the expertise, dedication and team work of all the staff involved in the transplant programme.

Professor Steve Clark, Director of the Heart/Lung Transplant Programme says: "The future of heart and lung transplantation looks very strong in Newcastle thanks to the Joint Trust/University initiative that built the UK's first Transplant Institute. This has brought together all organ transplantation under one department, enabling more transplant operations and research, to improve transplantation outcomes in the future." 

Lynne Holt, Clinical Transplant Coordinator further explains: “30 years is an amazing achievement and it is a privilege to have been part of the team since the early days. I am constantly in awe of the courage of our patients and families, although I continue to struggle with the high numbers of patients who die waiting for an organ to be donated.

"Ultimately, the success of the Freeman Hospital Transplant Programme would not have been possible without the generosity of the donors and their families. We would encourage all to consider signing on to the NHS Organ Donor Register and discuss their wishes now with their families”

A mobile home has been purchased by the Freeman Heart & Lung Transplant Association, for the benefit of their members and their families. This project has been made possible through the generosity of the late Brenda Muriel Jones, who left a legacy to the FHLTA.

The mobile home will be launched at the 30th Anniversary Luncheon. A raffle will take place and the winner will receive a week's holiday in the mobile home which is situated at Whitley Bay.


Further information

For further information please contact Lynne Holt on tel: 07900 014344

Note to editors

Transplant patients owe their lives to the generosity of others, who donate the ‘Gift of Life’. Please help to raise public awareness about transplantation and sign up on the Organ Donor register. To register, and for more information please go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk, contact the NHS Organ Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23, or text SAVE to 62323

Freeman Hospital Heart/Lung Transplant Programme 1985 – 2015

  • 1985  Cardiac transplantation programme begins at the Freeman Hospital
  • 1987 -  First successful heart transplant for a baby in the UK at the Freeman Hospital (+longest surviving)
  • 1987 -  First successful single lung transplant in Europe at the Freeman Hospital
  • 1990 -  First successful double lung transplant  in Europe at the Freeman Hospital
  • 1991 -  Paediatric pulmonary transplantation programme commences at the Freeman Hospital
  • 2002 –First non-heart beating lung transplant in the UK performed at the Freeman Hospital
  • 2011The Freeman Hospital celebrates their 200th paediatric heart transplant
  • 2011 -  UK's first ever dedicated Institute of Transplantation (IOT)opens its doors at the Freeman Hospital
  • 2013 – The UK’s first successful bilateral upper lobe lung transplant is performed at the Freeman Hospital on a 13-year-old boy with Cystic Fibrosis.
  • 2014 – The Freeman Hospital performs a Berlin Heart operation on the world’s youngest patient
  • September 2014The Freeman Hospital celebrates 100 adult congenital heart transplants with a balloon release.
  • September 2014 - Leading heart and lung surgeons at the Freeman Hospital showcased their life-saving transplant techniques and hosted the International Teaching Course for Heart and Lung Transplantation for 20 surgeons from around the world.
  • November 2014 – Kaylee Davidson- Olley lights the flame to launch the Westfield Health British Transplant Games 2015 in NewcastleGateshead.
  • May 2015 – 30th Anniversary of the Freeman Hospital Heart/Lung Transplant Programme – celebrated by a luncheon hosted by the FHLTA.
  • July/August 2015 – The Westfield Health British Transplant Games take place in NewcastleGateshead.
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