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New organ specialists planned to meet donation increase

17 November 2008

A national network of organ donation specialists trained to improve skills in retrieving and transplanting viable donated organs has been announced by The Royal College of Surgeons of England. The move comes as the Department of Health's organ donation transplant taskforce prepares to make its final recommendations on how to increase the number of organ donors in the UK

The 20 new post-qualification Fellowships will herald a boosted national network of organ specialists in key hospitals. They will be appointed by April 2009 and will be learning a range of the latest organ retrieval and transplantation techniques from leading experts at units across the country. These new posts will meet current skills gaps and increase the capacity of the health service to retrieve the extra potential donor organs a planned increase in donation will bring.

John Black, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, said: 

“While much of the debate on donation has focused on the complex issues surrounding presumed consent, what eventually matters is that more people on the transplant waiting list get quicker, effective, life-saving transplants using the best techniques.  We have to look at every way to improve donation rate and it is the duty of the Royal College of Surgeons to ensure the generosity and aspirations of donors are met by providing our surgeons with the skills to make every donation count.”

The skills learned will include:

  • Specialist removal of abdominal (kidney, liver and pancreas) and thoracic organs (heart and lung) which will ensure organs are in the optimal condition for transplantation and allow for the anticipated growth in this area.
  • Key-hole kidney removal (Laparoscopic living donor nephrectomy), enabling those who choose to donate one of their kidneys to undergo an operation with shorter recovery, less pain and less scarring.
  • Paediatric liver transplantation – increasing the number of surgeons skilled in a highly specialised field.

Keith Rigg, President Elect of the British Transplant Society, said:   

“With the current emphasis on increasing the number of organ donors in the UK it is vital that the NHS has the infrastructure in place to deal with the anticipated workload in both organ retrieval services and transplantation.  These additional posts will ensure that there is the expertise and extra manpower needed to deliver effective transplantation services for the benefit of many patients. 
The posts will give a number of qualified surgeons the required training to enable them to perform the more specialized and latest surgical techniques such as the keyhole removal of kidneys from live donors and transplantation of livers in small children.”

Notes to Editors


1.    The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808. For more information please visit

2.    If you have any queries please contact:

Matthew Worrall – Email:; T: 020 7869 6047

Elaine Towell – Email:; T: 020 7869 6045

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