The Congress of the Asian Society of Transplantation (CAST) is the region’s largest and longest running gathering of transplant physicians, surgeons and other health professionals involved in transplantation. Many Asian nations are on the cusp of developing organ transplant programmes. The 14th Congress was held in Singapore from August 23-26, 2015. Dr. Sunil Shroff, Managing Trustee, MOHAN Foundation and Dr. Sumana Navin, Course Director, MOHAN Foundation attended the congress.
Dr. Sumana Navin's paper on ‘Impact of Trained Transplant Coordinators on the Deceased Donation Transplantation Programme in India’ was conferred the Best Abstract Award at the congress. She highlighted that MOHAN Foundation's trained transplant coordinators facilitated retrieval of organs from 41% of the multi-organ donors in the country from 2012 to 2014. MOHAN Foundation's counsellors who were placed in the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai had a conversion rate of 66% (170 patients were certified brain-stem dead and 113 families said 'yes' to organ donation - February 2010 to December 2014).
She also presented a paper on Improving the Deceased Donation Transplantation Rate in India. Both these papers showcased the impact of MOHAN Foundation’s training programmes, public advocacy and out-of-the-box strategies as well as best practices in capacity building, which were very relevant to the countries in the region. Keen interest was displayed in the Transplant Coordinators' Training Programme with the audience wanting more details about the training, the composition of the participants (social workers/nurses etc.), and the challenges faced by transplant coordinators. Prof. A. Vathsala, President, CAST 2015 complimented MOHAN Foundation on the work that it was doing.
In the presentation on improving the deceased donation transplantation rate in India, Dr. Sumana Navin mentioned that when the family member of a deceased donor became an ambassador for the cause – like Mrs. Lalitha Raghuram, Country Director, MOHAN Foundation - the consent rate for organ donation was close to 90% when she spoke to families who had lost a loved one. The chairperson Dr. Ejaz Ahmed from Pakistan commented that they had also found that when donor families spoke about their experience it fostered public trust.
Dr. Sunil Shroff, Managing Trustee, MOHAN Foundation who was an invited speaker, spoke on Progress in Transplantation in Asia – India, and also made an oral presentation on Influence of a Media Campaign on Organ Donation Helpline.
There were also two poster presentations by MOHAN Foundation -
Our participation in CAST 2015 gave us an opportunity to learn, share and network with surgeons, physicians and transplant coordinators from various countries in Asia.
The highlight of the pre-congress organ donation workshop was the session on Skills for High Stake Family Interactions with Simulations conducted by Dr. Jim Boggs and Dr. Fiona Clark (USA). The high-fidelity simulations using professional actors helped focus on specific areas in family interactions where the transplant coordinators made an impact and where they did not.
At the congress, the session on Women in Transplantation was inspiring. Dr. Dibya Singh Shah shared her story about her role in the first renal transplantation in Nepal in 2008. The panelists comprised Prof. A. Vathsala from Singapore, Dr. Curie Ahn from South Korea, Dr. Benita Padilla from Philippines and Dr. Yuki Nakagawa from Japan. Dr. Ahn said that her approach in her work was to look at things as challenges and not problems. Dr. Vathsala said that it was necessary to have passion, compassion and knowledge and that it was important for ‘Women in Transplantation’ to work towards ensuring that all women had equitable access to health care in the region.
There was a lot of commonality in the approach by different countries for improving deceased organ donation, whether in Asia or Europe. Of course, each country focused on certain specifics depending on the need - infrastructure (human or physical resources)/community education/policy/religious and ethical issues. Dr. Mirela Busic from Croatia spoke about changing attitudes towards organ donation through education campaigns in schools and universities. She added that they were trying to work with the Croatian education department to include organ donation in the school curricula. Croatia has one of the highest organ donation rates in the world. Dr. Gurch Randhawa also spoke about campaigns in the UK involving the youth and the importance about the 'family conversation'. Their approach was Feel (a sense of pride in organ donation), Think (donation is a normal thing to do), Do (sign up on the organ donor register). Dr. Sunil Shroff spoke about MOHAN Foundation's concept of the Family Donor Card.
Dr. Anwar Naqvi, Prof. of Urology, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT), Pakistan, was of the opinion that engagement of religious leaders was important for deceased organ donation in South East Asia as compared to the Middle East where it has already been endorsed by faith leaders there. Dr. Riadh Fadhil from Qatar said that people needed to have trust in the donation and transplantation programme when alive, only then would they trust it in death as well.
Prof. A. Vathsala, in her plenary session, while speaking about the Challenges and Progress in Transplantation in Asia spoke about the success achieved in Thailand and she also specifically pointed out the progress in Tamil Nadu, while talking about India. She thanked MOHAN Foundation for providing her with the necessary information for her presentation.
Other eminent speakers included Dr. Jeremy Chapman, Australia who spoke on Essentials in establishing a Deceased Organ Donation Programme and Dr. Francis Delmonico who elaborated on Combating Organ Trafficking in Developing Countries: Challenges and Achievements as well as Evaluation of Foreign Prospective Living Donors – The Role of Cross-Border Professional Networks.