A Birmingham transplant patient is said to be “recovering well” in hospital after receiving a donated liver that had been rescued from a burning plane.
Dramatic pictures released by West Midlands Fire Service show the aftermath of the incident, when the private Cessna plane crash-landed during foggy conditions at Birmingham International Airport on Friday.
Emergency services crews managed to access the invaluable organ and the seriously injured pilot after a brave air ambulance pilot entered the burning aircraft to cut off its fuel supply.
Two men on board the jet were taken to hospital with injuries and the airport was shut until Saturday afternoon, affecting 80 flights.
The airport had returned to normal by yesterday morning.
Investigators are probing the cause of the accident, which happened at about 3.30pm as the jet arrived from Belfast.
The Cessna pilot, a 58-year-old man, suffered multiple injuries and was airlifted to University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire.
A spokeswoman said his family did not wish to release any details of his condition.
A second man, believed to be in his 30s, was treated at the scene for flash burns to his body and a back injury and was taken to Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, from where he was discharged on Saturday morning.
The liver was taken to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where a spokeswoman said the recipient was “recovering well” following a successful transplant.
It is understood the patient will remain in hospital for at least the next four or five days.
The operation was the sixth liver transplant in five days at the hospital.
Birmingham International Airport spokeswoman Jo Lloyd said airport activity had returned to normal by Sunday morning.
She added: “The Air Accident Investigation Branch team will continue their investigation in more detail.”
A Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance spokesman said one of its pilots had “bravely entered the burning wreckage, using his aviation and technical knowledge to locate and cut the fuel supply to the engine and make the patient more accessible to the fire service.”
West Midlands Fire Service’s operations commander for Solihull Jim Sinnott said airport firefighters were first on the scene and helped rescue one casualty while the other got himself out of the plane. “I have been able to speak directly with our crews that attended the incident. I’d like to go on record to applaud the airport fire service for the rapid and aggressive fire-fighting tactics that made this crash survivable.
“Our crews have praised their professionalism and skills in dealing swiftly with a very serious incident,” he said.