Medical and research experts packed the foyer of the £30m facility yesterday at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital for the unveiling of the plaque during a special ceremony.
The Institute of Transplantation brings together four operating theatres, a 22-bedded intensive care unit, recovery wards, an outpatient department, a screening and imaging department, office accommodation and a lecture theatre all under one roof.
Sir Roy Calne, who performed the first liver transplant in Europe in 1968 followed by the world’s first liver, heart and lung transplant in 1987, and Prof John Wallwork, who performed Europe’s first successful heart-lung transplant in 1984, officially opened the facility.
“It is a wonderful building and gives added value to patients”, said Prof Wallwork. “It really does bring together all the services that a patient needs in one place.
“The facility will attract really good medical people to the region and it will make it easier to get more funds for clinical trials, that will lead to better patient care.”
The opening ceremony was part of a conference with a number of eminent clinicians visiting from all over the UK, leading on lectures covering the history of transplantation, current clinical activity and research in Newcastle, and the future of transplant surgery.
Sir Calne said: “Everybody feels this facility is something surgically and educationally of value.”
It is expected that as many as 300 adult transplants will be carried out at the centre each year and pioneering research will take place in partnership with experts at Newcastle University.
Pam Yanez, directorate manager at the Institute of Transplantation, said: “This is the first centre of its kind in the UK and it is exciting to have such a fantastic facility in the region.
“Having all the services in the same place will lead to better patient outcomes.”
The new centre will allow heart and lung, kidney and liver transplants to all be carried out under one roof.
Patient-to-patient kidney donations, which require two next-door operating theatres, could be carried out more easily.
The Institute of Transplantation, which covers 9,500 square metres over a number of levels, has been funded by Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Sir Leonard Fenwick, chief executive of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are extremely proud of the Institute of Transplantation here in Newcastle – the first centre of its kind dedicated solely to the provision and advancement of solid organ transplant surgery for those whose lives depend on it.
“This is a five star NHS facility and patients will come from all over the UK to use it. The Institute of Transplantation is about quality, time, ambiance and compassion.
“I am delighted to be providing a service like this and to have such distinguished guests to help us celebrate the official opening is a great honour for the NHS here in the North East of England.”