A transplant patient "would certainly have died" without the donated liver that was involved in a dramatic plane crash in Birmingham, the surgeon who performed the operation has said.

The organ was on board a private Cessna that crash-landed on the tarmac in foggy conditions at Birmingham Airport after arriving from Belfast on Friday.

Two men on board were injured and the airport was shut until noon on Saturday while investigators probed the cause of the accident.

But the liver was not damaged and the transplant was carried out successfully at the city's Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Friday night.

Simon Bramhall, consultant liver transplant surgeon at the hospital, said: "Without a liver transplant the patient would certainly have died."

The recipient of the donated organ, who has not been identified for reasons of patient confidentiality, was listed as a "super urgent", meaning they were among the sickest patients on the liver transplant list anywhere in the UK and would get offered every potentially suitable liver.

"Patients who are on this list only have a matter of days to survive, so in this particular instance it was crucially important that the donor liver was used and has functioned successfully," Mr Bramhall said. It was "pretty amazing" that the liver made it to the hospital in a perfect condition, he added.

The patient returned to the intensive care unit after the transplant, remained incubated and sedated there overnight, and was woken on Saturday morning and the ventilator removed.

Mr Bramhall said: "The patient is now on one of our wards here at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, making a very good and steady recovery and conversing normally, eating and drinking. Everything is going according to plan."

It emerged after the accident that an air ambulance pilot bravely entered the burning Cessna to cut off the fuel supply and allow medical staff to reach the trapped pilot following the crash at about 3.30pm. Fog made the rescue mission more difficult.

The Cessna pilot, a 58-year-old man, suffered multiple injuries and was airlifted to University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire for further assessment and treatment. The passenger was less seriously hurt.