Belfast Telegraph

Pilot critical after donor liver plane crashes at airport

A man was fighting for his life last night after a light aircraft transporting a donor liver from Northern Ireland crashed as it came in to land in thick fog at Birmingham Airport.

Despite the wreckage of the Cessna catching fire, the liver was safely transported to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where it was used in a transplant operation.

It also emerged last night that a pilot from the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance entered the burning jet to cut its fuel supply after the crash.

The plane had taken off earlier in the day from Belfast International Airport.

A spokesman for the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) said that the accident happened in foggy conditions.

He said the pilot of the Cessna, a 58-year-old man, was trapped in the wreckage suffering from multiple injuries, while a second man in the plane was less seriously hurt.

“The Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance pilot bravely entered the burning wreckage, using his aviation and technical knowledge to locate and cut the fuel supply to the engine and make the patient more accessible to the Fire Service,” the WNAA spokesman said.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman confirmed that one man was seriously injured in the crash.

The spokeswoman said: “He was treated at the scene for multiple injuries and airlifted to University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire for further assessment and treatment. A second man was treated at the scene for flash burns to his body and a back injury.

“The man, believed to be in his 30s, was immobilised using a spinal board and neck collar before being conveyed via land ambulance to Heartlands Hospital.”

The incident caused widespread disruption to travellers, halting all flights and prompting gridlock on roads surrounding the airport.

Speaking at Birmingham Airport, a spokesman for West Midlands Police confirmed that the donor organ had been taken to a nearby hospital.

“We were able very quickly — with the transplant service — to escort the ambulance from here to the hospital the organ was going to,” the spokesman said.

Dominic Tolley, director of air operations and clinical services for WNAA, said: “This certainly was a challenging mission for all the emergency services involved and a good team effort.”

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