Almost 400 people who have been given a new liver gathered in Birmingham over the weekend to celebrate the new lease of life given to them by the operation.
The event, at Edgbaston Cricket Ground, was organised to mark the 3,000th liver transplant carried out by the Birmingham Liver Unit since it opened 26 years ago.
People from all over the country that have benefited from the operation visited the city in what is believed to be the biggest gathering of liver transplant patients ever.
Among guests at celebration organised by the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust was Erich Darch, recipient of the 3,000th transplant.
Mr Darch, from Mid-Glamorgan in Wales, said: “A year ago, I didn’t think I would see this day. My health had deteriorated to a point where I was falling into a semi-coma. I was told that Birmingham Liver Unit had put me on the transplant list and within 48 hours I had my new liver.”
Since the operation, the 65-year-old has taken up indoor bowls and also plays golf regularly.
“I can’t praise enough the professionalism and dedication of the Liver Unit and their colleagues who continue to look after me post operation,” he added. “All of my family now carry donor cards, and I support the calls for an automatic opt in for organ donation.”
When it opened in 1982, Birmingham’s Liver Unit – which operates across the Queen Elizabeth and Birmingham Children’s hospitals – was one of only two centres of its kind in the UK.
Today, it carries out about 165 life-saving transplants a year.
Professor Buckels, who carried out the operation on Mr Darch, said: “This event is a celebration of life. Our better understanding of transplants combined with modern surgery techniques, advances in drugs, better care of donor organ, and our supportive aftercare systems have significantly improved survival rates.
“I’m very proud of the achievements of the Liver Unit, and it fitting that we mark our 3,000th transplant with a day of celebrations.”