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Plane carrying donor organ crashes; 2 hurt

By Melissa Gray, CNN
  • NEW: Airport reopens following crash
  • The organ was successfully transplanted
  • The private Cessna crashed on landing at Birmingham

London, England (CNN) -- Two men were recovering Saturday after their plane carrying a donor organ crashed in central England, police said.

The private Cessna crashed and caught fire while landing at Birmingham Airport on Friday, injuring the two men onboard.

As soon as the two men were "secure," the organ was retrieved and escorted by police to a nearby hospital, where doctors successfully carried out a liver transplant, West Midlands Police and the hospital said.

"The recipient is stable, as would be expected at this time," Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham said in a statement. "The transplant team would like to thank the pilot of the light aircraft and his colleague for their bravery. Our thoughts are with the individuals and their families. The team would also like to thank the quick-thinking of the fire and rescue teams at the scene who saved the organ."

Early information indicated the plane had a hard landing and subsequently caught fire, police said.

One of the men was lightly injured and taken by ambulance to a hospital while the other was more seriously hurt and airlifted. The second man was "comfortable in hospital" early Saturday, according to West Midlands Police.

There were foggy conditions at the airport when the crash happened just after 3:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. ET), Britain's Press Association reported.

Authorities shut down the runway pending investigations, but it reopened later Saturday, the airport said.