European liver transplant pioneer, who performed the continent’s inaugural procedure, passes away at the age of 93.

Prof Sir Roy Calne, the pioneering surgeon who led a team that performed the first liver transplant in Europe, has passed away at the age of 93.

On 2 May 1968, Calne performed a groundbreaking operation at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, a year after the initial successful liver transplant in the US.

In 1978, he became the first doctor to utilize an immunosuppressant, which proved effective in reducing organ rejection.

Calne achieved several surgical “world firsts” and his contributions to liver transplants offered thousands of people with end-stage liver disease the chance for a normal life, as stated by the Royal Society.

Calne’s family confirmed that he passed away in Cambridge on Saturday evening.

His son Russell expressed that Calne was an incredible person and an amazing father to six children. Russell also mentioned their pride in his accomplishments and the incredible places they had visited due to his accolades.

In an interview, Calne stated that he did not consider the transplant a milestone at the time. He described the operation as just “one step” in the development of transplants.

Despite the success of the operation, the patient passed away from lung inflammation two months later.

When asked about recognizing the significance of the procedure, Calne explained that they approached it one step at a time, focusing on aspects such as the effectiveness of immunosuppression and preventing infections.

Calne served as professor of surgery at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS foundation trust from 1965 to 1998. During his tenure, he performed Cambridge’s first kidney transplant in 1965 and Europe’s first liver transplant three years later.

Angela Dunn, believed to be the longest-surviving kidney transplant patient in the world in July 2020, expressed her gratitude to Calne on the 50th anniversary of the surgery. She credited the operation for allowing her to live beyond her expectations.

Addenbrooke’s hospital named its specialized transplant unit after Calne to honor his “world firsts” and erected a plaque at the entrance.

Currently, in 2021, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS foundation trust remains the only transplant center to conduct all abdominal organ transplants, with more than 350 procedures performed annually, according to Prof Chris Watson.

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