July ASTS President's Message

Jul 29, 2020
In light of the events in recent months that have illuminated the plight of Black Americans, I continue to reflect on the role we must play in confronting racism and the devastating consequences of this persistent evil.

It is imperative that we keep up the momentum to eradicate racism against Black people and under-represented minorities in America and abroad. This not only affects our society and our people, but also our patients and their outcomes. I recognize that it is my responsibility to ensure that ASTS is actively anti-racist not only by speaking out against racial intolerance, but also by fostering diversity and inclusion in our Society and by extension our profession. Diversity impacts all aspects of society, medicine and transplantation; diversity saves lives!

This month, ASTS will be announcing its Boldly Against Racism campaign. This will detail a bold action plan, with input from stakeholders and tactics and measures that will ensure our diversity and inclusion efforts are embedded in our fabric and are linked to outcomes. I would be remiss not to mention the amazing work being done by the ASTS Diversity Issues Committee, under the leadership of Dr. Jayme Locke, which has worked diligently to expand the Society’s diversity efforts and create more opportunities for minorities in transplantation. This year, ASTS created a diversity scholarship for a minority ASTS member to attend the LDN/DCD workshops. The Society also partnered with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) to fund an opportunity for an ASTS member to participate in the university’s Health Disparities Research Education Program (HDREP). At the 2020 Winter Symposium, a panel of speakers led an engaging education session on diversity and inclusion. The Diversity Issues Committee also gave presentations at the 2019 Fellows Symposium and the 2019 Program Directors Meeting. We are all ASTS Proud for the work we have all done, but we need to do more and hold ourselves accountable for the desired outcomes.

The ASTS Executive Committee is actively working to come up with initiatives to bring awareness to racial health disparities in transplantation and to increase diversity and inclusion within both the Society and the field of transplantation. The Society’s goals include expanding leadership and grant opportunities for minority transplant professionals, analyzing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on racial health disparities in transplantation, and fostering professional relationships between ASTS minority members and ASTS leadership. Your input is always welcome and encouraged on this matter.

In these difficult times it is more important than ever that we support each other. I am pleased to announce that our Peer Support Network is now available to ASTS members. You can find the directory of peer supporters here, or you can refer someone you know who could benefit from talking to a peer here. On August 12 at 3 p.m. Eastern, we will host a webinar by expert Jo Shapiro, MD, to explain how the program works and how your center can help members access this benefit. I hope you can join us or watch the recording afterward to learn about this important Society initiative. I am grateful for Dr. Liz Pomfret’s leadership in this effort, our volunteer peer support members for their dedication, and Diane Mossholder’s generous administrative support.

As part of my goal to make our processes more effective, I have asked Satish Nadig and the Communications Committee to strategize how to improve our communications. We are all so busy that it’s challenging to keep up with the emails in our inboxes, especially those that aren’t urgent. We’re hoping to come up with ways to convey information at a glance so you can keep up with what your Society is doing with less effort. Stay tuned and please share your thoughts.

Finally, I want to spotlight a manuscript recently written by a team led by Dr. Mark Hobeika and in collaboration with the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO). The manuscript, entitled, “A Step Towards Standardization: Results of Two National Surveys of Best Practices in Donation after Circulatory Death Liver Recovery and Recommendations from ASTS and AOPO,” was approved for publication in Clinical Transplantation. This work is an excellent contribution bringing us closer toward standardization of best practices in DCD liver recovery.

If you have ideas or suggestions about our work in these areas, please let me know at

Final Words: We are living through unusual times, bringing uncertainties, anxieties, and frustrations to many of us. Having lived through civil wars and seeing humanity at its worst, I have also seen humanity at its best. I have always admired a quote from the Declaration of Independence that has resonated with me over the years: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Unfortunately we have not lived up to the ideal expressed in the Declaration, but that it’s something we should continue striving to do. Living through the past few decades, it has also become clear that overt and covert racism have coexisted in a variety of forms along with our ideals of freedom and equality within our society. However, I see hope for a better future propelled by enlightenment and purposeful good work by the people. We will bring about change, positive change, to our communities and people. This is an opportunity to define our legacy as the current and upcoming generation in transplantation surgery. Which brings me to my quote of the day by the late John Robert Lewis, American politician and civil-rights leader who served in the United States House of Representatives.

Quote of the day

“Every generation leaves behind a legacy. What that legacy will be is determined by the people of that generation. What legacy do you want to leave behind?”