Six-organ transplant man begins new life

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STEPHEN HYETT, the first person in Britain to survive a six-organ transplant, yesterday celebrated the success with champagne.

Mr Hyett, 32, a butcher from Haverhill, Suffolk, said he looked forward to trying out his favourite meal - takeaway fried chicken - on his new liver, kidney, stomach, duodenum, small bowel and pancreas. A former tank crewman with the Queen's Dragoon Guards, Mr Hyett has been ill for four years. By the time of his operation he was close to death. Non-cancerous growths were invading his internal organs, preventing them from functioning.

Yesterday, he was discharged from Addenbrookes NHS Trust, Cambridge, where he underwent the 12- hour multiple-transplant on 14 March. His doctors predicted a full recovery.

The operation, costing between pounds 50,000 and pounds 100,000, closely resembled the transplant given last year to five- year-old Laura Davies, from Eccles, Manchester, at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her operation failed and she died last November, prompting accusations that she had become a guinea pig.

Mr Hyett, married with two daughters, was operated on by three surgeons, led by Professor Sir Roy Calne. Mr Hyett had already had three major operations since 1990.

Professor Calne defended the decision to attempt the pioneering operation. 'One has to be humble in the face of criticism because we do spend a lot of resources on hi-tech surgery and attention has to be paid to humanitarian considerations. Stephen rather minimised how sick he was. He was faced with an illness of no return. We could not but help someone like that.'

Laura Davies was, he suggested: 'In a much more parlous state than Stephen. She had already rejected one organ transplant.'

Yesterday, Mr Hyett, looking thin, said that he still tired easily and did not expect to return to work for some time. He hoped to take a holiday next year in Tenerife but for the moment has to check in with the hospital each day. 'I can't thank the staff enough for what they have done,' he said.

Sir Roy said: 'We're delighted with Stephen's progress and although there is a long way to go, the signs are very encouraging . . . In the future, operations like this will be routine. People will wonder why we had all this difficulty.'

All six organs, weighing about three kilograms, came from one donor, whose heart, second kidney and two corneas were used in successful transplants for four other patients. The six organs were transplanted en bloc after Mr Hyett's were removed. The Japanese anti-rejection drug FK506 was successfully used to suppress Mr Hyett's immune system. Sir Roy said that cumulative evidence was suggesting that including a liver in multiple transplants was the key to preventing rejection.

His paintings of the operation and of Mr Hyett are currently on display at the Science Museum in London.

(Photograph omitted)

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