A record-breaking number of attendees gathered in Miami Beach January 14-17 to discuss the biggest question in the field of transplantation: how to increase the supply of organs so that every patient in need gets one. Six previous U.S. Surgeons General joined ASTS for a special panel discussion on Saturday afternoon: “Transforming the Landscape of Organ Access and Transplantation: Surgeons General Perspectives
.” They gave their thoughts on constructing a national campaign to promote organ donation and transplantation to a standing-room-only crowd and then took questions from attendees.
Other highlights of the event included the Presidential Address by Charles M. Miller, MD, who talked about “Beauty and the Beast,” citing stories about the ups and downs of transplantation from his career while showing slides of paintings that fit the emotional context of his tales. It was a moving address made all the more poignant by the fact that the paintings were done by his wife Erica.
James F. Burdick, MD, gave the seventh annual David Hume Lecture and treated the audience to a series of “Predictions” about the future of transplantation on Friday afternoon, followed by the Trainee Mini-Oral Abstract Session, which gave those just starting out in the field 10 minutes to present their research to the attendees. Friday was capped off by the Opening Exhibit and Poster Reception, which combined networking with visiting exhibitors and viewing posters.
On Saturday, the Oral Abstract session was kicked off by the 2016 Vanguard Prize recipients, and the Recognition Awards ceremony followed. This year the Posters of Distinction awards were given out as part of the ceremony, along with the ATP Award, Vanguard Prize, and Francis Moore Excellence in Mentorship in the Field of Transplantation Surgery Award. The weather got in on the Saturday night dinner and dancing with a little late drizzle, but that didn’t stop attendees from dancing and singing the traditional Bohemian Rhapsody to close the event.
The second Oral Abstract session began Sunday morning, and the Symposium finished with a Shark Tank session. Eight proposals to increase organ donation, which were submitted and pre-selected for presentation, were shared with the audience, who then voted for their favorite. Kasi McCune’s “Project DONATE” was the winner.
Quotes from the Surgeons General panel: Richard H. Carmona, MD, MPH, FACS
Surgeon General of the United States
“You need a very robust communications strategy.... The challenge I would put to you…is taking this complex stuff and being able to communicate it to the average person so they’re inspired. So that they feel it is part of what they need to do.”
David Satcher, MD, PhD
16th Surgeon General of the United States
“We have to develop a collective strategy for changing attitudes and creating an environment where people see their role in public health. And where we trust each other to do the best thing for everybody involved. We can do that together.”
M. Joycelyn Elders, MD
15th Surgeon General of the United States
“We’ve got to be altruistic donors. We all talk about how we love to give. Well, we’ve got to learn what that really means. And we all love life. What is the legacy we’re going to leave? We’d all like to leave a legacy. We all know a society grows great when old men, when old women, plant trees under whose shade they know they’ll never sit. So let’s hope we can change our society into one that wants to plant trees for our bright young people to sit under.”
Antonia C. Novello, MD, MPH
14th Surgeon General of the United States
“You have to think that there are things out there where fear really decides the fate of people. And when you’re a minority, fear decides your fate. Because education is power and we have never been totally educated of the needs and what we need…. So when you are a minority and you really do not get the education, I think that’s the first thing that we have to do. But when we do, please, I ask you, do it in a culturally sensitive way.… You have to meet me in the place where I gather, usually my church or my community or my family, and it has been shown that we have networks and you can tap those networks to get hold of me.”
Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH
Rear Admiral, US Public Health Service (Retired)
Acting Surgeon General of the United States (2013–2014)
“The successful approaches in public health have always centered around the sense of changing culture, changing beliefs and attitudes, and changing social norms. … Social norms have changed with other things; it’s not just what not to do, but what to do. … Public health can only achieve its successes through empowerment of people.”
Kenneth P. Moritsugu, MD, MPH, F.A.C.P.M.
Rear Admiral, USPHS (Retired)
Acting Surgeon General of the United States (2002, July 2006–September 2007)
“We need to communicate the facts about organ donation and organ transplantation. We need to increase awareness, as my colleagues have said, so that we can get across the truth as opposed to reinforcing the myths of organ donation.… We need to have the figures to support these facts. Thank you, Boris, for pointing out that over 120,000 people are still on the waiting list, that so many people die every day, waiting…. We need to have the faces, the human faces, to support the facts, to support the figures…. The human faces that put an identity to the facts and the figures.”
ASTS gratefully acknowledges Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation as a Diamond Level Sponsor, Veloxis Pharmaceuticals as a Platinum Level Sponsor, and Astellas and Bristol-Myers Squibb as a Gold Level Sponsors for the ASTS 16th Annual State of the Art Winter Symposium.
The Winter Symposium webcasts are available here. Please make plans to join us for the 17th Annual State of the Art Winter Symposium January 26-29, 2017, again at the beautiful Loews Miami Beach Hotel. See you there!