Pioneers & History

The true pioneers in transplantation have become part of the popular history of the world. They are held up as inspirational figures, not just for fellow medical professionals, but for people from all walks of life.

To the list of successful clinicians, the pioneering doctors from Newcastle’s hospitals need to be added. The city’s hospitals have a long and successful history of caring for the most clinically-compromised patients. They are often suffering from end-stage organ failure, and for whom transplant surgery may be the only treatment option available.

Transplantation began in Newcastle in the mid-60s when our renal surgeons carried out their first kidney transplants at the former Newcastle General Hospital (now known as the Campus for Ageing and Vitality). 

This success was followed up in the mid-80s when our cardiothoracic specialists carried out their first heart transplant in 1985 at the Freeman Hospital, followed swiftly by the UK’s first successful paediatric heart transplant, and Europe’s first lung transplant just two years later.

Continuing success

Since the 1980s, the Freeman Hospital has become one of the most successful solid organ transplant centres in the UK. Today we offer a wide spectrum of transplantation providing adult transplants for heart, lungs, heart and lungs, liver, kidneys, kidney and pancreas and, more recently, pancreatic islets.

Transplantion in Newcastle

  • 1963 - Kidney transplant programme starts at Newcastle General Hospital
  • 1967 -  Live donor kidney programme starts at the Royal Victoria Infirmary
  • 1984 - Pancreas transplantation programme starts at the Royal Victoria Infirmary
  • 1985 -  Cardiac transplantation programme begins at the Freeman Hospital
  • 1987 -  First successful heart transplantation for a baby in the UK at the Freeman Hospital
  • 1987 -  First successful single lung transplantation in Europe at Freeman Hospital
  • 1990 -  First successful double lung transplantation in Europe at Freeman Hospital
  • 1991 -  Paediatric pulmonary transplantation programme commences at Freeman Hospital
  • 1993 -  Liver transplantation programme starts at Freeman Hospital
  • 2002 -  Laparoscopic donor nephrectomy programme starts at Freeman Hospital
  • 2008 -  First islet transplantation in the North East at Freeman Hospital
  • 2009 -  Live related liver transplantation programme under development at Freeman Hospital
  • 2011 -  UK's first ever dedicated Institute of Transplantation opens its doors at Freeman Hospital