'I am so grateful' - Dad given liver transplant at Leeds hospital was first to benefit from charity-funded machine

Once a fit and healthy dad-of-three, Howard Ford was told last summer that he would need a liver transplant as a result of several years of living with cirrhosis.

By Georgina Morris
Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 6:00 am

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the transplant team at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds has been working hard to ensure that patients in need can still be treated.

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Leeds Hospitals Charity is supporting exhausted NHS staff during Covid pandemic ...

And thanks to donations from its supporters, Leeds Hospitals Charity was able to fund a £40,000 Vikita Smart Machine during the second wave,

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Howard Ford is back out walking his dogs after receiving a liver transplant at St James's University Hospital in Leeds.

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.

It was put to use for the first time last autumn when Howard, 64, underwent an operation that means he can look forward to walking his daughter down the aisle this summer.

Due to the complexity of his surgery, the new liver that he was to receive was kept on the charity-funded machine to ensure it would have the best chance of successful transplantation.

After three weeks recovery in hospital, Howard was able to return home to his wife in Chorley and begin focusing on the future again.

The Yorkshire Evening Post is asking readers to back the Help Your Hospitals campaign by becoming a friend of Leeds Hospitals Charity.

“It was only after the transplant that I realised what a difference the new liver made," he said. "I’m feeling much fitter, both mentally and physically, and I’m so pleased to be 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 this 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.”

Funding the Vikita Smart Machine is just one of the ways that Leeds Hospital Charity has made a difference during the pandemic.

As the dedicated charity of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, it provides an average of £5m each year towards equipment, services, education and research.

Magdy Attia, a consultant transplant surgeon at the trust, said: “Vitasmart is a novel technology that allows us to optimise livers before transplantation. This technology has proven effective in reducing the risks of complications, re-admissions, further interventions and length of stay.

"Most importantly the technology will improve the survival of the liver graft and the patient."

With more regular donors, the charity would be able to do even more to back projects that the NHS does not fund but which have the potential to do so much good for hospital staff and patients.

It is why the Yorkshire Evening Post is asking readers to back the Help Your Hospitals campaign by becoming a friend of the charity and helping to raise an additional £3m during 2021.

Text FRIEND to 70660 to donate £5 a month or visit leedshospitalscharity.org.uk to set up a regular donation for any sum or make a one-off gift to the charity.

What is Leeds Hospitals Charity?

Leeds Hospitals Charity - previously known as Leeds Cares - is the dedicated charity for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The charity works closely with the team of more than 18,000 people who work at our local hospitals to support projects that the NHS does not fund, helping to relieve pressure on staff and make a real difference to the experience of patients and their families.

With the support of generous donors, it makes that valuable contribution by raising funds for equipment, services, education and research.

The charity provides support for eight areas which include Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds Children’s Hospital, Leeds Cancer Centre, St James’s University Hospital, Chapel Allerton Hospital, Seacroft Hospital, Wharfdale Hospital and Leeds Dental Institute.

It supports NHS staff working at each of those locations to deliver the best care for more than a million patients and their families each year.

Working with local communities, schools and businesses across the city and beyond, it provides an average of £5m in additional funding for the trust each year.