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1983: Transplant makes British medical history

VIDEO : Transplant patient discusses the operation

The first heart and lung transplant operation to be performed in Britain was successfully carried out today.

Swedish journalist, Lars Ljungberg, underwent the transplant receiving the organs of a woman from the south of England who died yesterday.

It took a team of 20 doctors and nurses at the specialist heart unit, Harefield Hospital, in north London, more than five hours to carry out the operation.

Mr Ljungberg is said to be recovering well from the operation and is recuperating on an isolation ward in the intensive care unit there.

Staff 'delighted'

He is said to be conscious with his wife by his side.

The team of doctors was headed by renowned surgeon Magdi Yacoub.

Hospital administrator David Thomson said staff were delighted with the outcome.

"The patient took the five and a half hour operation very well and is recovering now on a ventilator in the intensive care unit," Mr Thomson said.

"Mr Magdi Yacoub has said that he is pleased with the operation and that it went very smoothly."

Under observation

Mr Ljungberg is likely to remain on the ventilator for another 48 hours.

He had been waiting for a transplant at the hospital, for more than a month.

But staff have been preparing for the pioneering and intricate procedure for several months.

The first operation of its kind in the UK, it is said be simpler to perform than a heart transplant.

There are fewer small blood vessels to join and just three main areas where the organs are sown into place.

In Context
Mr Ljungberg survived for 13 days after the operation and died with his wife and mother by his side.

The hospital said the heart and lungs he had been given had worked well and had not been rejected but he had died as a result of his condition before the operation.

Mr Ljungberg had been suffering from pulmonary hypertension which had led his lung tissues to thicken, cutting the oxygen supply to the blood.

Harefield was built as an isolation hospital for TB in the 1930s but became a renowned centre for pioneering heart surgery.

The celebrated surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub carried out the first heart transplant there in 1980.

The first ever heart transplant was performed in South Africa by Dr Christain Barnard in December 1967.


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