Sahlgrenska I.C. and a team from the Transplant Institute at Sahlgrenska University Hospital arranged an Organ Donation seminar in Reykjavik on 13-15 January. The program covered stages in the organ donation and transplantation surgery process. As many as 150 medical professionals from various departments attended the three sessions at Landspitali University Hospital sites Fossvogur and Hringbraut.
Five years ago Sahlgrenska I.C. entered an agreement on organ donation and transplant operations for patients insured by the Icelandic Health Insurance. An important part of the collaboration is to keep all parties involved up to date with research and development in the field.
Kristjan Karason, Director of Transplant Cardiology, began with explaining the latest progress within heart and lung transplantation, treatments that have become a routine in end stage heart and lung disease. Research show that Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion, a new method developed at Sahlgrenska University hospital, has the potential to increase the number of patients treated with lung transplantation. Thanks to the mechanical devices earlier rejected lungs can now be used.
Paired kidney exchange is another interesting method that we will see more of. It increases the chance that transplant recipients get the organ that is the best match for them. For liver transplant candidates suffering from Hepatitis C, the biggest breakthrough is not transplantation itself but new medicine. – The use of this medicine for Hepatitis C treatment can possibly make the indication disappear within 5-10 years. The problem today is that the medicine is very expensive, says Per Lindnér, Chairman of the Transplant Institute.
Finding eligible donors is a prerequisite for transplantation. Statistics show that Swedes are among the most positive to organ donation in the world. How come the organ donation rate is so low then? – This shows that the main challenge is not the population’s awareness. The key is to improve the identification of donors at the ICU, says Bertil Andersson, Regional responsible for organ donation in Region Västra Götaland. One step in the right direction is to educate all hospital staff involved. That is also the purpose of the film – An essential decision – released earlier this fall. The film is to be seen as a tool for discussion among personnel that can be confronted with similar situations during their career.
The person tying together the donation and transplantation is the transplant coordinator. Petra Vestlund, Certified critical care registered nurse, gave an overview of the coordinator’s many tasks. Good communication skills are essential since one process can involve up to 200 calls to all parties involved. For example, it is often the transplant coordinator who informs the donor recipient about a possible match. – Those calls are always very emotional. But I really enjoy making them, says Petra.
The organ donation seminars are to be held regularly. We thank the Icelandic Health Insurance and all participants from Landspitali University Hospital and Akureyri for making the 2015 year edition so successful.