Looking Back, Looking Ahead

What an Eventful 2017!

2017 is now behind us and we looking ahead to 2018 with excitement and hope. It’s that time of year to take stock of the past year’s accomplishments, set goals for the year ahead and look forward to new experiences. That is likely how many transplant recipients and their families are starting 2018!

Dr. Tom Blydt-Hansen

We remain true to our guiding objective of funding innovative and ground-breaking research aimed at improving the lives of transplant patients and those living with end-stage organ failure. Through our partnership with Astellas, we funded two $50,000 projects that have the potential to change the face of transplantation. One of the project, ‘Enhanced Immune Monitoring in Pediatric Kidney Transplant Recipients’ led by Dr. Tom Blydt-Hansen, looks at using biomarkers in urine and blood to detect rejection in its early stage. Rejection could be detected and addressed before damage to the kidneys occur. It could also help limit the need for painful and invasive biopsies for patients.

Dr. John Boyd                  Dr. Mark Kearns

The second project involves Drs. Mark Kearns and John Boyd  in their study ‘Biomarkers of Transplant Viability in Marginal Donor Hearts’. This project is welcome news for patients awaiting a heart transplant as it seeks to advance the practice of donation after cardiac death (DCD) by using biomarkers (genes and proteins) to better determine the viability of DCD hearts for transplant.

This year also marked our first Research Challenge Competition! TRF partnered with Providence Health Care (PHC) and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) to fund solid organ transplant related projects through their Research Challenge programs. These programs are targeted at point-of-care nursing and allied health staff, and provide $5,000 grants to qualified projects. We had originally committed to funding only one to two projects, but the merit and quality of the applicants was so impressive we didn’t hesitate to step in and fund a total of four projects. These projects address a wide range of topics, including knowledge and attitudes of kidney clinic staff, health literacy on medication adherence, experiences of highly sensitized patients on the heart transplant waitlist and depression in post lung transplant patients. It was truly inspiring to see the commitment from front line staff to improve the lives of transplant patients.

Sandy Fairey         Doug Copland       Carmen McKenna

We were thrilled to welcome three new board members in 2017! Doug Copland, Sandy Fairey and Carmen McKenna are now part of our team. Carmen and Sandy both have direct experience with transplantation as they have children who have received the gift of life.  Carmen’s daughter Brynn received a heart transplant as a newborn, while both of Sandy’s sons have undergone kidney transplants. Doug is passionate about supporting ground-breaking transplant research and giving back to the community. He looks forward to contributing to TRF.

Attendees at the Celebrate Transplant Research Event

One of our greatest accomplishments in 2017 was bridging the major divide between research and the transplant community. We recognize that research can be intimidating and somewhat mystifying. However, we value transparency and are eager to involve the community in our work. This lead us to our first ever Celebrate Transplant Research Event. This event brought together health care professionals, the public, as well as transplant patients and caregivers. It was an evening to learn about the research funded by TRF, hear from patients, and network within the community.

We also launched our Christmas Campaign ‘Every Christmas Counts’. Transplant recipients shared how many Christmases they have celebrated thanks to organ donation and transplant research. It was empowering to see the impact organ donation has had in so many lives with some recipients celebrating more than two decades with their gifted organ. The campaign really brought home how important research is for post-transplant survival. It was remarkable that when combined, 16 transplant recipients have celebrated a total of 166 extra Christmases that they would not otherwise have had! Thanks to everyone who participated and made our campaign so successful!

Exciting times ahead!

2018 is starting out very busy. But that is just the way we like it as that means more exciting research is on the horizon. We are looking forward to new discoveries in transplantation and advancements in the field!

We are proud to partner again with Providence Health Care (PHC) and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) in the 2018 Research Challenge Competition. We cannot wait to see the patient focused projects that arise from this year’s competition, which gets underway in February.

We are eagerly anticipating the launch of our Venture Grant competition. Traditionally, the competition was held in the fall, but the decision was made to move the competition to Spring 2018 to better align us with other national programs, including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Stay tuned for more information!

Jordan Marcia, Heart Recipient Imagining the possibilities for what lies ahead in transplantation

By maintaining and creating new partnerships with stakeholders, facilitating more community outreach and events, and funding patient centered research projects, we look forward to strengthening our connection with our transplant community in 2018. We hope you are as excited as we are to spend the next 12 months making the transplant world a better place for recipients, individuals with end stage organ failure and their families.