THE UK'S first purpose-built transplant institute will be officially opened in the North-East today (FRI) by two pioneers in the field of transplantation.

The Freeman Hospital Institute of Transplantation in Newcastle will be opened by Sir Roy Calne and Professor John Wallwork.

Sir Roy performed the first liver transplant in Europe in 1968 followed by the world's first liver, heart and lung transplant in 1987.

Loading article content

Professor Wallwork performed Europe's first successful heart-lung transplant in 1984.

Also in attendance will be Newcastle East MP Nick Brown, who 'cut the turf' for the Institute's construction site nearly four years ago in October 2009.

At the time he said: "If you need an organ transplant, there is no better place to live than Tyneside. I am really proud of the work done at the Freeman Hospital. The new facility is going to be world class and will underpin Newcastle's standing in the medical world."

The opening ceremony is part of a major symposium with a number of eminent clinicians visiting from all over the UK.

They will give lectures covering the history of transplantation, current clinical activity and research in Newcastle, and the future of transplant surgery.

Sir Len Fenwick, chief executive of the Newcastle Hospitals Trust, said: "We are extremely proud of the Institute of Transplantation here in Newcastle - the first centre of its kind dedicated solely to the provision and advancement of solid organ transplant surgery for those whose lives depend on it. To have such distinguished guests to help us celebrate the official opening is a great honour for the NHS here in the North-East of England."