Talking transplant to kidney patients across Ontario

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A team of 20 members from Ontario transplant hospitals and dialysis centres at the general Explore Transplant Ontario meeting, fall 2015

Many people know what diabetes and high blood pressure are.  However, less know that patients who have diabetes or high blood pressure can also lose the functioning of their kidneys, a disease called End-Stage Kidney Disease.  When a person’s kidney is functioning at less than 10%, patients must start dialysis, or be tested for a kidney transplant. During dialysis treatment, a machine filters their blood of waste and unwanted water from the blood. For those who are able to get a kidney transplant, research has shown that patients live longer than patients who remain on dialysis.

In Ontario, there are more than 17,000 patients with End-Stage Kidney Disease. (Statistics from Canadian Organ Replacement Register Annual Report Treatment of End Stage Organ Failure in Canada, 2004 -2013.) Many of these patients have not learned what a transplant requires and whether they would be interested in a deceased or living donor transplant.  They have lots of questions about the surgery and recovery and how their life would change with a transplant.  People who might want to donate a kidney also have to learn about the risks and benefits of living donation.

A first for UHN and kidney organizations across Ontario

Dr. Istvan Mucsi, a nephrologist in the Multi-Organ Transplant Program at the University Health Network (UHN) and Dr. Amy Waterman, Associate Professor at University of California- Los Angeles’ Division of Nephrology have teamed up with 20 members from Ontario, dialysis centre’s and hospitals to adapt a transplant education program called, Explore Transplant Ontario.  Explore Transplant Ontario will provide video and print education about kidney transplant and living donation for kidney transplant patients, their caregivers, potential living donors, and the public.

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Order of Canada investiture ceremony honours UHN Surgeon-in-Chief

Dr. Shaf Keshavjee and his Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, at the Order of Canada investiture ceremony on Sept. 23.

Congratulations to Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, Surgeon-in-Chief, Sprott Department of Surgery and director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program at UHN, for being made an Officer of the Order of Canada. Dr. Keshavjee was presented with the honour on Sept. 23.

The Order of Canada, one of Canada’s highest civilian honours, was established in 1967, during Canada’s centennial year, to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

Dr. Keshavjee is a pioneer in developing the Toronto Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion System. The system allows donor lungs to be kept alive outside of the body in order to be assessed, treated and repaired before being transplanted into a patient.


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Dr. Shaf Keshavjee is the Director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program and UHN’s Surgeon-in-Chief. (Photo: UHN)​

Primary graft dysfunction (PGD) is a devastating form of acute lung injury that afflicts about 10-25 per cent of patients in the first hours to days after lung transplantation. It is the leading cause of death after transplant.

Although donor lungs are tested and examined before transplant, some signs of injury may not be able to be detected by standard tests.

University of Toronto and Toronto General Research Institute researchers have developed a microelectronic chip sensor which identifies, in minutes, whether a donor lung is at risk for PGD.

Researchers Drs. Shaf Keshavjee and Shana Kelley expect that this technology will be able to alert surgeons to damaged lungs which are not suitable for transplant, and may also reduce the numbers of lungs which are discarded but may have a good molecular profile.

“Currently, only about 15 per cent of all donated lungs are transplanted, leading to a shortage of lungs,” says Dr. Keshavjee, Director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program and UHN Surgeon-in-Chief.

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Wightman-Berris Academy Awards Ceremony

Mike Award

The Toronto Transplant Institute is proud to announce that Dr. Mike McDonald, Director of Education for the UHN Multi-Organ Transplant Program and Director of Education Toronto Transplant Institute was awarded the John W. Bradley Award for Educational Administration Innovation and Development.

Teachers and educators in all health professional disciplines form Mount Sinai, University Health Network, and our Community and Subspecialty Academy Sites were honoured on May 7, 2015.

The guest speaker, Ryan Brydges, Ph.D , Wilson Centre Scientist, presented a thought provoking talk on “The One Thing We’ll Never Stop Doing…Yet No One Teaches Us!” In it he challenged us as educators with trying to tackle the prospect of how we help develop the skills necessary for lifelong learning in our
trainees and in ourselves.

SickKids was lit up for the Games

Torch1On Friday, July 10, SickKids lit up with excitement as it played host to the Toronto 2015 Torch Relay for the official opening of the Pan Am Games.Double-lung transplant recipient and SickKids patient ambassador, Myles Lynch, ran the Pan Am Games torch into the hospital on the last day of the 41-day relay throughout Canada.Read more..

See what’s it’s like to Run like Myles:

UHN researchers part of Canadian award to boost stem cell and regenerative medicine research


The University of Toronto has been awarded a $114-million federal grant for its regenerative medicine program, named Medicine By Design. The program seeks to develop treatments for major diseases by designing and manufacturing cells, tissues and human organs. The program will involve more than 50 researchers and clinicians in partnership with the Hospital for Sick Children, the University Health Network and Mount Sinai Hospital.  Read the full story

Message from Atul and Mike

Humar,AMikes Headshot

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the Toronto Transplant Institute. We are proud to introduce a new activity report called “Transplant in Motion”. This monthly report will highlight developments and news across participating institutions within the Transplant Institute, including the University Health Network, the Department of Immunology, St. Michael’s Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children.

Over the next 3-5 years, we will focus on a number of initiatives.

Examples of Identified Education Priorities:

  1. Further education of fellows by overseeing the AFC Diploma Certification training at UHN, SMH and HSC.
  2. Support innovation in education by awarding cross institutional grants for educational programs which place an emphasis on collaboration across disciplines and programs.
  3. Improve organ donation through High School Outreach Initiatives. This collaboration is with TGLN and involves transplant physicians and coordinators.
  4. Extend the Training Program in Regenerative Medicine (TPRM) with its existing online components, workshops, speakers, summer program and funding for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.
  5. Continue yearly educational initiatives: Principals of Immunology course, Epidemiology training course (SPICE&B) and the MOT student training program.

Examples of Identified Clinical and Research Priorities:

  1. Establish dedicated and comprehensive transitional care programs and clinics to aid transitions from pediatric to adult care.
  2. Joint Living Donor recognition events every 1-2 years among three transplant programs.
  3. Kidney ex-vivo clinical trial as a combined effort between UHN, HSC and SMH.
  4. Development of standardize risk templates for utilization of exceptional distribution donors.

Our first activity report celebrates our first Education Innovation Competition, pays tribute to two of our own leaders in transplant and recognizes the hard work and dedication of transplant students. At the bottom of each story there will be a comment box for feedback. Just as stories are posted, specific questions to the transplant community will be posted. This is an opportunity for you to connect with other members.

As you move along the top toolbar you can learn more about who we are and what we do. You can also view highlighted publications in research and innovation, learn what’s happening at each site through the latest media coverage and connect to the community through our events listing.

Like all great publications, the work posted is from a team of dedicated professionals. With your contribution we can develop an informative report. To make this happen, we want to hear from you, we want to know your story and highlight the research that matters to you. Here’s your opportunity to share what you have to offer.

How can I post my information?

You can connect with Sarah Ferguson, MOT’s Education and Communications Coordinator by email at or by phone at 416-340-4800 ext: 5278

Sarah will develop regular communication pieces through interviews with all staff in the transplant community. Please send her your information and she will work with you to post it in a timely manner.

If you wish to share “Transplant in Motion” with a colleague or friend please point out the “Subscription” bar at the top right side of the page. Once they have signed up, they will receive their first report the following month.

We hope that you enjoy this month’s activity report and are inspired to be a part of the growing conversation in transplant.

Dr. Atul Humar, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Director Multi-Organ Transplant Program University Health Network
Director Toronto Transplantation Institute University of Toronto
Dr. Michael McDonald, MD, FRCPC
Director of Education for the UHN Multi-Organ Transplant Program
Director of Education Toronto Transplant Institute