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Reunion for Leeds transplant pioneers

Ruth Wright with Fred Gungaram, her dad Mervyn Moorhead and Dr Stanley Rosen

Ruth Wright with Fred Gungaram, her dad Mervyn Moorhead and Dr Stanley Rosen

A TRANSPLANT patient who underwent a pioneering operation in Leeds has been reunited with her surgeon - 38 years on.

Ruth Moorhead was a teenager when she was the first child to undergo a kidney transplant at St James’s Hospital in January 1976.

In a double first, she received the organ from her father Mervyn - the hospital’s first operation using a live kidney donor.

Ruth, now Ruth Wright, and her parents travelled from their homes in Plymouth to Leeds to meet surgeon Dr Stanley Rosen.

He flew in from California for the special event for former kidney transplant patients and said it was an “immense pleasure” to meet Ruth and fellow transplantees from throughout the years.

Julian Hartley, chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said there was a long history of transplantation in the city and paid tribute to the “remarkable” track record.

“We have the largest unit in the UK with some fantastic outcomes for our patients thanks to great teamwork and a very sensitive approach,” he said.

Mrs Wright lived in York at the time of her operation, and she and her father, now 87, and mother Beryl brought scrapbooks of press cuttings, letters and mementoes to Leeds.

The family were also reunited with Fred Gungaram, a former nurse who cared for her during her treatment.

Her surgeon Dr Rosen, who founded the Renal Unit at St James’s in 1967, was the first consultant nephrologist in the country.

He spoke about its early years when kidneys had to be rushed to St James’s in a police car as there was then no method for keeping them fresh.

In the 1970s, St James’s developed its renal transplantation programme, and the hospital still holds what’s believed to be a worldwide record as four patients are still alive who have had a transplanted kidney for over 40 years.

Mr Hartley added: “I’d like to say a big thank you to our staff as well as the patients, families and our donors who have made all this possible.”

 

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