Staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital are celebrating reaching a clinical landmark.
Doctors at the flagship facility in Larbert have completed their first successful non-heart-beating organ donation, a procedure that has been hailed as a “tremendous step forward” by the man who led the operating team.
Two kidneys were taken from a male patient who had died in intensive care at Forth Valley Royal and then transported to hospitals in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
One was received by a man in his late 30s who has been waiting for a suitable donor since 2008, and the other was given to a man in his 60s who is now recovering well in hospital.
The organ donation team at Larbert have attempted six similar procedures in the past three years, but none were successful due to various medical reasons.
Traditionally organs have been retrieved from patients who are diagnosed as brain dead but whose hearts continue to beat due to being ventilated. This ensures that the organs are not deprived of a blood supply.
But medical advancements in recent years means that it has now become possible to retrieve organs from patients who have suffered a cardiac death, in which their heart has already stopped beating.
However it is a highly complex procedure as the organs must be retrieved soon after death if they are to be suitable for donation.
Dr Mark Worsley, clinical lead for organ donation at NHS Forth Valley, said: “Around 700 people a year in the UK die while waiting for a kidney.
‘‘Being able to use kidneys from non-heart-beating is a tremendous step forward.
“For example, in the past year in Scotland we have had 38 donations after cardiac death which is an increase of 10 in the previous year – and that number is set to grow even more in the future.”
Recent figures show that 38 per cent of people living in Forth Valley have signed up to the NHS organ donation register, an increase of 2.3 per cent.
Despite the rising number, NHS Forth Valley is still below the national Scottish average of 41 per cent.
The Falkirk Herald has been campaigning for several years for more people in the district to register as organ donors.
Editor Colin Hume said: “It only takes two minutes of your time and it could save someone’s life.”
To register, or to find out more details, visit www.organdonationscotland. org.