Medicine faculty members help set new record number of transplant surgeries

Janet Harvey - 12 December 2013

Lori West, interim director of the Alberta Transplant Institute

Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry transplant surgical teams and researchers played a key role this past fall when the transplant services team at the University of Alberta Hospital performed 30 organ transplants in a 10-day period: September 29 to October 8. The three lung, two heart, eight liver, five islet, one kidney/pancreas and 11 kidney transplants were a hospital record. Typically, between 20 and 25 transplants are performed in an entire month.

The record-setting transplant surgeries were performed by faculty members Gerald Todd, Trevor Schuler, Ronald Moore, James Shapiro, Norman Kneteman, David Bigam, Steven Meyer, Roderick MacArthur, Shaohua Wang and Bryce Laing.

The transplantation record is a testament to the incredible teamwork of the Edmonton Zone multi-organ transplant program, one of the most comprehensive clinical programs in Canada. But it is also partly the legacy of transplant research excellence for which the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and the U of A are known. The Faculty is home to the Alberta Transplant Institute, which, in close partnership with Alberta Health Services, brings together all of the university's clinical transplant programs and its multiple research strengths under one umbrella. And, in April of this year, Faculty researcher and renowned pediatric transplant cardiologist Lori West was tasked with leading Canada's new national transplant research program.

"Advances in transplantation such as this are completely dependent on an infrastructure of research excellence, such as we nurture and support at the Alberta Transplant Institute," said West, director of the Canadian National Transplant Research Program (CNTRP) and acting director of the Alberta Transplant Institute. "Transplantation science, in its many diverse areas, is a rapidly evolving arena, and feeds the development of cutting-edge transplant therapies that provide clinical solutions. Patients awaiting transplant are among the most vulnerable Albertans, but these life-saving transplants provide real hope and impact."

The CNTRP is designed to increase organ and tissue donation in Canada and to enhance the survival and quality of life of Canadians who receive transplants. It aims to transform the field of transplantation by addressing the barriers to donation, therefore increasing the number of available organs, improving the quality and viability of donated organs, and improving long-term survival and quality of life for transplant patients. It is the first program in the world to unite and integrate the solid organ transplant, bone marrow transplant, and donation/critical care research communities together in a ground-breaking national research endeavour.