London Health Sciences Centre pioneers International Transplant Mentorship Training Program

November 29 , 2012

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.


Faisal with Corinne Weernink, Transplant Donation Specialist
Faisal with Corinne Weernink, Transplant Donation Specialist

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 by 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.”

Faisal Al Harthi observing a transplant procedure

Faisal observing a transplant procedure.