All of the wonderful photographs below were taken by Peter Croan, Financial Director of the National Services Division and clearly an excellent photographer.
Yesterday 18th November was the celebration marking the 20 th Anniversary of the foundation of the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit. It was a great occasion and was well attended with almost 600 people; over 460 patients and carers coming to join 100 past and present staff for the celebrations. The event was held at Murrayfield stadium home of the Scottish Rugby team. This seemed like an appropriate venue since it is the site of many heroic battles and our patients know all about that.
We started with coffee and biscuits and a chance for old acquaintances to be renewed and then all moved outside for a group photograph in the stands.
We are planning on filling the West stand in the not too distant future.
As you can imagine this took a while and we were brilliantly entertained by the pipes and drums of the Cockenzie and Port Seton pipe band.
Everyone then went back in to the warmth of the West stand for lunch. We were delighted to welcome back Dr Niall Finlayson who was the first specialist hepatologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and who was an integral part of the establishment of specialist services for liver disease including the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit in Edinburgh. He reminded us that before the transplant unit was established in 1992 patients had to travel to Birmingham to have the opportunity for liver transplantation and that many patients died without having this opportunity. He explained how the unit was set up and paid tribute to other contributors to the establishment of the SLTU including Professor Sir David Carter and Professor Ian Boucher who were both present.
Next Professor John Forsythe spoke about the great team working within the Unit which made liver transplantation so successful. He also paid special tribute to the generosity of the donors and their families without which none of our activity would be possible. John also remembered the patients who were not able to be assessed for transplant , who were found to be unsuitable for transplantation and those who had received a graft but had subsequently died.
Professor John Forsythe
John then introduced Dr Aileen Keel Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Scotland who represented the Government. We have known Aileen for many years both as a colleague and in her Government role and it was good to have someone come to speak who had a genuine understanding of the issues facing liver transplantation and the complex team working and interactions required to run a successful unit.
Dr Aileen Keel Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Scotland
All of the speakers were fantastic but the undisputed star of the show was one of our patients Sangita Patel. She related her personal story of developing liver disease and how it made her feel. You could have heard a pin drop as she described her jaundice, constant itch, feeling s of extreme coldness, tiredness and increasing social isolation and desperation as her disease progressed. All of the audience understood what she had been through and of course many had similar stories themselves. Sangita described the elation of being called in for a transplant and the desolation of finding out that the liver was unsuitable for her. She finally became so desperate that her and her fiancee packed up her car and were planning to travel down to the family home with her mother and sister the following day when a liver became available for her. She was successfully transplanted a year and a half a go and recounted her road to complete recovery and normality. It was a great story and there was hardly a dry eye in the house.
Lunch was then served………s..l..o..w..l..y…….. So apologies for that. Fortunately our guests and staff were all having such a nice time that nobody really noticed or at least nobody complained. I was delighted to be on a table which included Sangita and Neil above and our oldest transplant recipient Jean Kay and her husband George. Jean was the fourth patient to receive a liver transplant in Scotland back in 1992 when she was transplanted at the age of 66. She had undergone her pre-operative work up in Birmingham but was delighted to actually receive her transplant in Edinburgh which was done by surgeon Hilary Sanfey, who had travelled all the way from Illinois where she now lives, to attend our celebratory luncheon. Now 86 years old, Jean is as sharp as a tack and still doing whatever she can to promote organ donation and transplantation.
Towards the end of a rather long lunch I got up and bored everyone with my vision of the future of the transplant unit which really was probably an unnecessary delay before the start of the raffle. Professor James Garden who undertook the first and many of the subsequent liver transplants at the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit kindly drew the first ticket.
The jar of runner bean chutney made by my daughter and I, which I know provoked a flurry of raffle ticket buying, was won by Janice Davidson’s parents. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the occasion and there was great sense of purpose as well as joy about the gathered throng. We are very grateful to all who attended but particularly our patients and carers who are great advocates and living evidence that all we do is very worthwhile.
Thanks also to Rosanne Bate, Carolynn Calder and our transplant co-ordinators who together with Henri Forman Events organised a fabulous day.
Rosanne, Tricia, Maureen, Karen and Donna our transplant co-ordinators- Scotland’s new front 5?