Thanks to your donations, earlier this year Leeds Hospitals Charity awarded £40,000 to the transplant team at St James’s University Hospital to purchase a Vikita Smart Machine. This unique machine helps to preserve the quality of donated livers and kidneys by pumping an oxygenated solution through the organ and preserving it at low temperatures.

The machine was delivered in the Autumn and the first patient to benefit was 64 year old Howard Ford from Chorley, who underwent a liver transplant at the end of October. Howard was a fit and healthy father of three when he was told in July 2020 that he would need a liver transplant, due to several years of living with cirrhosis. After just a few months on the transplant waiting list, Howard was called to Jimmy’s to have his operation. Due to the complexity of his surgery, the new liver was kept on the machine to ensure it would have the best chance of successful transplantation.

‘Feeling much better’

After three weeks recovery in hospital, Howard is back home with his wife and is feeling much better. “It was only after the transplant that I realised what a difference the new liver made. I’m feeling much fitter, both mentally and physically and I’m already back out walking my two dogs! I’m now looking forward to being able to walk one of my daughters down the aisle at her wedding next Summer and I’m so grateful to all of the surgeons and liver nurses who were involved in my transplant. The whole team were really fantastic and to know that I was the first patient to benefit from this new machine is just amazing.”

Magdy Attia, Consultant Transplant Surgeon at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said “Vitasmart is a novel technology that allows us to optimise livers before transplantation. The technology uses hypothermic oxygenated perfusion which is much better than simple cold storage. Also, potential viability of the liver can be assessed while the liver is on the machine. Livers from donors after cardiac death have increased risk of bile ducts complications and some of these patients will need to have a  second transplant with increased risks. This technology has proven effective in reducing the risks of these complications, re-admissions, further interventions and length of stay. Most importantly the technology will improve the survival of the liver graft and the patient.”