On February 8-10, the AST held its 6th Cutting Edge of Transplantation (CEoT) meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. Nearly 400 transplant professionals, legislators, and government agencies came together for a lively discussion about the regulatory barriers in transplantation. This meeting brought together the key players to examine internal and external barriers that have impeded the much-needed progress and innovation in our field.
We kicked off the meeting with a “Shark Tank” type of session on the pros and cons of xenotransplantation. Although I am a proponent of xenotransplantation, I stepped in for Allan Kirk, who was unable to attend, to challenge this concept (I can’t claim to have done Allan justice in this respect). These sometimes tongue-in-cheek sessions about controversial topics have evolved into the signature kickoff of our CEoT meetings.
The afternoon session featured several thoughtful discussions, including key ethical issues in living donation including advances required in both immunosuppression and the organ donation process to decrease the number of rejected and discarded organs.
We welcomed eight Young Innovator Award recipients to the meeting. Many of these young professionals also attended the 2017 Fellows Symposium and have shown a sincere interest in the AST.
There were three track options on Friday, including the OPTN/UNOS policies track, heart track, and the lung track. In addition, the Program Specific Reports session featuring representatives from HRSA and SRTR, overviewed the past, present, and future of transplant program reports. The AST finds it critical to maintain ongoing interactions between our Society and these key organizations.
We were also fortunate to have two members of Congress speak (despite the threat of another government shutdown). Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) shared her family’s transplant story with attendees. She has her own compelling story in that her husband donated his kidney to their young daughter after she was born without kidneys. The Congresswoman agreed that there are significant regulatory barriers in transplantation, and reiterated her support for the Living Donor Protection Act. She already has spoken at our 1st AST Patient Summit in Washington D.C. last October and is becoming a champion for transplant-related causes on the Hill.
Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA) discussed the need for increased NIH funding. When asked how transplantation can compete for funding among more common areas, he encouraged the community to bring personal patient stories to legislators. Congresswoman Herrera Beutler echoed this perspective in her comments.
AST past-president, Anil Chandraker, presented the Society’s first Innovation Award to the University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto for their work in ex vivo organ perfusion.
We concluded this memorable meeting with several sessions on Saturday and a poolside reception on Saturday night. It was wonderful to connect with many of you during this reception.
Finally, events like CEoT are not possible without the generous support from our corporate supporters. This meeting is an opportunity for us to connect with these partners and have meaningful discussions about the issues in transplantation.
Thank you to everyone who made the trip to CEoT 2018, and a special thank you to all our speakers and moderators. I hope to see all of you again at CEoT 2019, which will once again be held at the Arizona Biltmore on February 21-23, 2019. Be sure to keep an eye out for details as we get closer.