London Health Sciences Centre pioneers International Transplant Mentorship Training Program

LONDON, ON, Nov. 29, 2012 /CNW/ - The Multi-Organ Transplant Program (MOTP) at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is recognized as a world leader, performing close to 160 transplants annually and pioneering groundbreaking advances in transplant technology. Soon patients at the King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia will benefit from the highly specialized expertise of this multi-disciplinary team when Faisal Al Harthi, a charge nurse in the transplant program there, returns from three months of training as LHSC's first participant in the International Transplant Mentorship Training Program.

Al Harthi is credited with bringing the idea for this program to LHSC earlier this year after he sent a message to MOTP Recipient Coordinator, Kathleen Larkin requesting the opportunity to travel to London to learn from the MOTP team. "I spent considerable time researching transplant programs around the world, and felt that LHSC would offer me a great learning opportunity. Several surgeons from Riyadh trained at LHSC, so I knew it was a good place," says Al Harthi.

MOTP staff began research of their own to learn whether international mentorship programs existed in other hospitals, but found nothing offering intensive, on-site mentorship. "We found a program in another country that offered primarily on-line mentorship, but knew that Faisal would benefit most from becoming part of our team, and learning by observation and participation. Our entire team agreed, and began the process of developing a formalized training program that would meet Faisal's needs and those of his hospital," says MOTP Donor Coordinator Mahms Richard-Mohamed.

Al Harthi's primary focus was to learn the role of a recipient coordinator, as such a position does not currently exist in his hospital's transplant program. A recipient coordinator works with patients who are awaiting an organ transplant or who have already received their new organ(s).  The MOTP team recognized long ago that there is potential for conflict when there is one role responsible for supporting both donors and recipients. Al Harthi's program has realized that too, and the hospital will create a recipient coordinator position for him when he returns.

"This experience has been more than I ever expected. This is a busy team, so I have been given so much opportunity to participate, and have learned a great deal," said Al Harthi. "I am grateful for the way the team has welcomed me. Three months is a long time to be away from home, but they've made me feel like I'm part of their family, and have taught me so much."

Reflecting on the experience, Carla Cormack, manager of the transplant program, is confident that this new program will continue to develop and expand. "We want to help newer programs grow, and we have the ability to customize our training to suit the needs of a particular institution. Many countries have transplant programs that are now where we were decades ago. We can help them grow into modern programs much more quickly simply be sharing our knowledge and guidance." Adds Larkin, "We have an opportunity to promote our passion for transplantation, which is a great thing. Transplant programs all have one common goal - increased awareness and donations."

Al Harthi agrees, adding, "I look forward to taking back what I've learned and helping to grow our transplant program. This training program is helping to break down barriers to knowledge, and patients will benefit from that."

About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for 137 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to Children's Hospital, South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital, two family medical centres, and two research institutes - Children's Health Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, a joint research initiative with St. Joseph's Health Care London. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 50 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital's nearly 15,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca

SOURCE: London Health Sciences Centre

For further information:

For media inquiries contact:       

Marek Kubow
Corporate Communications and Public Relations
London Health Sciences Centre
519-685-8500, ext. 75155
Marek.Kubow@lhsc.on.ca

After-hours assistance: 

Call LHSC Switchboard at 519-685-8500 and ask to page the communication consultant on-call

Visit the LHSC Media web site at www.lhsc.on.ca/media

Like us on Facebook at LHSC Canada, follow us on Twitter @LHSCCanada and watch us on YouTube at LHSCCanada