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Triplets are transplant pioneers

A 40-year-old man donated five feet of intestine to his triplet brother in a life-saving transplant operation, it emerged yesterday. The successful operation follows the sudden, tragic death of the third triplet, who had initially agreed to be the donor for Phillip Jones, a former heating engineer from Totton, near Southampton.

It is the first time British surgeons have carried out an intestine transplant between identical siblings, and only the seventh such operation on an adult at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge.

Sir Roy Calne, the pioneering surgeon who performed the operation, said yesterday: "This is an extreme example of devotion and love between two brothers who happen to be triplets." He said that intestinal transplants were notoriously difficult, but using organs from identical siblings minimised the chances of rejection and other complications.

The operation was carried out last September, but news was witheld until doctors were satisfied that Mr Jones was recovering well. He is at home and can eat normally after four years of being fed on an intravenous drip. The donor, his brother Peter, a carpenter, is also well and unlikely to suffer any long-term ill-effects.

Phillip's health problems began four years ago, after he broke his leg while playing football. He developed a blood clot in his abdomen and was unable to digest food. His health deteriorated rapidly. Doctors decided to attempt a transplant.

Yesterday, Peter said: "It was a big decision to take. But at the end of the day, I love my brother and I think anyone in this room would do the same."