THIS WEEK IN 1993: Gift of life put on ice – surgeon preserves transplant organs

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Surgeons were poised to carry out Portsmouth’s first chilled kidney transplant by preserving a dead person’s organs without asking relatives first.

The technique would give doctors vital extra hours to find an accident victim’s family and get permission to use the organs.

Medics believed it would increase the number of kidneys available by 30 per cent and help cut the waiting list at St Mary’s hospital, Milton.

Transplant surgeon Maurice Slapak said: ‘I believe I have the support of everyone – both doctors and the public – who would be involved in the procedure.

‘I want to get this going across the region – and it’s going to happen in Portsmouth first.’

Mr Slapak had approached the local medical ethics committee to approve the method.

It would be used on people who died suddenly, either in an accident of in the casualty department after attempts to save or revive them failed.

Tubes would then be inserted into the body and a cold solution pumped through them around the kidneys.

Other organs could not be saved in the same way.

The technique was pioneered at a hospital in Leicester.