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Transplant in the Rocky Mountains

From October 16th to 19th, 2019, KHERG was excited to be a part of the Canadian Transplant Summit in Banff, Alberta. The conference was held in a stunningly scenic setting surrounded by the Rocky Mountains and frequently visited by herds of elk. It was in this natural space that the team had an opportunity to present our latest research on equitable access to living organ donation as well as our work on the use of PROMIS in patients on dialysis and kidney transplant recipients.

The conference featured many invigorating, thought-provoking, and innovative presentations by a wide range of leaders, transplant professionals, and individuals with lived experience in transplantation. Some personal highlights included presentations by:

  • Dr. Alvin Roth (Professor of Economics at Stanford University and winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics) on the opportunities for collaboration in kidney exchange across North America
  • Dr. Kathryn Tinckam (Transplant Nephrologist and Medical Director of the HLA Laboratory at the University Health Network) on the Canadian multi-organ strategy for willing-to-cross antibodies to increase access to LDKT for highly sensitized patients
  • Dr. Shaf Keshavjee (Thoracic Surgeon and Director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program at the University Health Network) on outcomes of lung transplantation in marginal donors through the use of ex-vivo lung perfusion technology
  • Dr. Marie-Chantal Fortin (Transplant Nephrologist at the Centre Hospitalier du l’Universite de Montreal) on perspectives of healthcare professionals on ethical issues around organ donation after medical assistance in dying
  • Dr. John Gill (Transplant Nephrologist at Providence Health Care) on the costs incurred by living organ donors and the importance of developing a national living donor reimbursement policy

Above all of these presentations, the one that stood out to be the most memorable was when the audience had the opportunity to hear from Tony and Bernadine Boulet, the parents of the late Humboldt Broncos player, Logan Boulet. Logan became an organ donor after his tragic death, an act which not only benefited the lives of 6 people, but which also motivated 100,000 other Canadians to sign their organ donor cards in a movement dubbed “The Logan Boulet Effect”. Hearing the Boulet family’s story was an emotional and somber reminder of the lived experience of countless organ donors and donor families across the country and around the world. For me, it was also a reminder of the importance of ensuring quality, respectful, and equitable care is provided to patients and families in the organ donation and transplantation process.

Overall, the conference was a valuable opportunity to learn from and connect with various individuals working in the field of transplantation as well as those with lived experience in organ donation. We look forward to seeing what’s in store at next year’s Canadian Society of Transplantation meeting in Winnipeg!

Article and photos by: Noor El-Dassouki

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