Redefining Education for Transplant Research Students

The Toronto Transplant Institute (TTI) hosted its first annual Student Research Day.  This also saw the inception of the Summer Student Program (also known as the TTI-SSP).TTI Pic 2

 Photo : The Toronto Transplant Institute, Summer Student Program Annual Research Day

The program was conceived out of a desire to instill a greater and more diverse comprehension of the field of transplantation and regenerative medicine among student researchers. Specifically, it is intended to expose students to topics that they would otherwise not encounter in their day-to-day research. Once a week, in addition to their various investigative responsibilities, students attended an educational activity highlighting some aspect within the field of transplantation. These ranged from statistics and the use of statistical analysis software to advanced concepts in scientific writing as well as bioethics and translational medicine. Students also had the chance to explore different occupations in medicine and healthcare during a career seminar where they could speak to experts from government, industry and academia in a small group setting. Many students described this as a highlight of the program.

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Keeping Canada Alive

Dr. Heather Ross, Director of the Cardiac Transplant Program, Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, UHN, was featured on the second episode of CBC’s series Keeping Canada Alive series. Dr. Ross discusses the average life expectancy of patients diagnosed with heart failure, how it’s increased from 2 years to 10 to 15 years for some patients, and how heart transplants affect the lives of those with heart failure.

The video features a conversation between a recent heart transplant patient in recovery and Dr. Ross.

Dr. Ross also sees another patient who has heart failure and is currently using a mechanical pump and who wants to delay a possible heart transplant. Dr. Ross also discusses what this means for his quality of life moving forward. See Episode 2 of CBC’s Keeping Canada Alive.

Dr. Ross appears at 31:10 with first patient, and at 35:25 with her second patient.

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.


​​​Image of Shaf Keshavjee
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: