A 59-year-old Iraqi patient received a liver from a brain-dead person on Friday after a matching Indian recipient could not be found on time. It is the first recorded legal cadaveric transplant to a foreign national.

When the donor, Sundari, 48, was declared brain-dead at Apollo Hospitals, her kidneys and eyes found recipients.

However, when it came to the liver, it turned out to be a complex procedure. Apollo Hospitals had two recipients on their list, but on that day, it was found that one of them had Hepatitis B, and the other, very high fever, ruling them out for the transplantation.

The government Transplant Co-ordinator looked for recipients outside the hospital. Government Stanley Hospital and a private hospital were asked if they could use the liver for their patients. Both hospitals refused, as the quality of the liver was poor. A pan-Indian search found a recipient in Delhi, but since the brain-dead patient was unstable the organ had to be used immediately.

Going by the principle that no organ should be wasted, the liver was offered to the Iraqi who had cirrhosis and cancer.

Liver transplant surgeon at Apollo Hospital, Anand Khakhar, said though there was tissue match, the weight of the patients did not match, and the liver itself was far from perfect.

However, for the Iraqi patient, it was like a lifeline.” His condition was said to be stable on Saturday.

It is the first recorded legal cadaveric transplant to a foreign national.