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Volume: 20 Issue: 3 March 2022 - Supplement - 1


Young Transplant Professionals in the Middle East Society for Organ Transplantation Region: Challenges and Opportunities


The power of youth represents the versatility of the Middle East, which has the largest number of youths among other world regions. Therefore, when addressing the future of organ transplantation in this region, the perspectives of young transplant professionals would be invaluable. Organ donation and transplantation in the Middle East face many challenges. These challenges, which would be transferred to young professionals pursuing a career in transplantation, are related to transplant education, training, and the health system itself. Young transplant professionals are seeking a platform that will bring the wisdom of leaders and the energy of youth transplant professionals together. This platform would focus on increasing recruitment and engagement of young physicians and surgeons and decreasing the hurdles mentioned above. A team of young professionals from the Middle East Society for Organ Transplantation countries hopes to bring their different perspectives into fruitful actions. Online education, career development, basic science research, and others are potential goals to be tackled. However, achieving this could not be possible without mutual collaborations with other young colleague teams from other transplant societies. Indeed, these actions can improve transplant science globally and in the MESOT region.

Key words : Education, Platform, Training, Youth

The Middle East Society for Organ Transplantation (MESOT) was established in Turkey in 1987. It includes member countries that belong to the Greater Middle East region, that is, Arab world countries and neighboring Mid-Asian countries.1 It is a very versatile region. A critical feature of this versatility is that the youth population represents about 30% of the population, which is a larger percentage than in other areas of the world.2

Because youth are the fastest-growing segment of the population, by 2025, people from 30 to 45 years old will be the largest population group in the Middle East region.3 This situation will create opportunities for economic growth and will boost economic productivity, which occurs when there are growing numbers of people in the workforce relative to the number of dependents. However, harnessing these opportunities will require targeted investments in human capital and human potential.4

From an economic perspective, the youth unemployment rate in the region is almost 30%, one of the highest in the world. Thus, youth exclusion poses high economic costs to Middle Eastern societies.5

The Middle East’s organ donation and transplant services will reflect these demographic and economic challenges and opportunities, specifically, with regard to young transplant professionals (YTPs).

The challenges for YTPs are related primarily to transplant education and training. Achieving a balance between education, training, local relevance, and global excellence is a big challenge in this area.6 Medical curricula at different levels remain inadequate to building fundamental knowledge about organ donation and transplant. Inadequacies in training include the lack of access to up-to-date, cutting-edge applications. Training programs may not include the development of the professional skills mandatory for physicians, with significant defects shown in building management and leadership skills. In addition, there are few research activities and low quality of research, no registries, and limited published transplant data from these countries.

Many countries within the MESOT region have small transplant programs. These programs are usually restricted to living donor renal transplant because of religious beliefs, cultural fears, and thoughts prohibiting donation after death.7 Indeed, this fact itself has limited the training and exposure for new physicians. Transplant units lack well-equipped laboratories, and the workforces and skills are limited. The practice lacks basic science, transplant immunobiology, and pathology courses. Because deceased donation is only available in a few countries, there is little experience in organ allocation, transplant coordination, and donor management. There is nearly a persistent failure to orient transplant education and training to these areas of need.

Another primary challenge is related to the health system itself. In some countries, health systems have alternate priorities, disturbed economies, and societal shifts that have intensified stress among young health care professionals in all medical disciplines. Health expenditure is also limited in these countries, with little social support and low public attitude toward donation and transplant.8 In addition, these countries are known areas of political conflicts and instabilities, resulting in inadequate infrastructure and health systems. These factors can lead to more illegal commercial transplant despite declarations against this from the World Health Organization, The Transplantation Society, and the Declaration of Istanbul custodian group. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the burden of logistic and ethical challenges has become more significant.

Let us take the kidney domain as an example. The Middle East region has one of the lowest nephrology workforces among world regions (6.7%), reflecting the low renal transplant activity (6.5%, 9.5 per million population).9,10 Young transplant professionals are the key to sustaining this workforce and promoting transplant services.A sad irony is that most living donors in this area are young, healthy men and women who are oppressed to donate because of poverty and community pressures. Indeed, no one could tackle this issue; however, YTPs and their enthusiasm would be the best advocates for ethical transplantation to protect their young peers. Fortunately, about one-third of the MESOT members are below the age of 40 years, and this should be a boost on the ground.

Preparing future leaders can inform future practices, policies, and leadership and advance the field. In addition, MESOT leadership could further careers of YTPs. Therefore, having a MESOT-YTP platform could bring YTPs from the region and involve them in different activities of the society. Furthermore, this platform could bridge the gap between senior and junior professionals, improving collaboration and networking among future generations of transplant professionals in the region and the world. The objective of this platform is to create an empowered young leader who can lead future reform.

This platform may achieve these goals through the promotion of transplant education, the building of leadership skills, and the harnessing of career development. Collaborative work with education and fellowship committees is critical for conducting successful educational activities. An online education program, to match the technology-forward attitudes of young people, would be able to deliver high-quality content at less cost. A short-term fellowship program could be a starting point followed by an online educational system. A dedicated pathway for basic science research is mandatory to match the cutting-edge progress in transplant science.

There are different donation models in the region for different organs and not for kidney transplant alone.11 These models could provide excellent training opportunities for YTPs to have the exposure and skills necessary to establish new transplant units in their home countries.

Career development and leadership training can offer the skills that enable YTPs to provide optimal cost-effective transplant services within a framework of quality and safety measures. These steps will not only assist with future management of transplant units but can create leaders in transplant education and research, as well as better transplant advocates for the community.

Energetic, talented YTPs are the most valuable future resource, and this resource needs recognition. Similar sessions in the future MESOT congress will allow an excellent way to present the achievements of YTPs from the area and can be continued at future congresses. Another way to recognize YTPs is through invitations to write and review manuscripts for the official journal of the MESOT (Experimental and Clinical Transplantation).

An exciting approach for online education and for increasing recognition and presence of YTPs is through social media. Through social media, YTPs could lead and expand the limited presence of MESOT and their activities. Moreover, social media can enhance networking between senior and junior professionals and even promote contact with patients and patient groups. The use of social media among transplant professionals is mainly by young leaders (35-44 years of age), who use and promote Web-based technologies for educational purposes.12

Another possible approach is communication with national health authorities in the MESOT area to support young professionals with finding educational grants and leadership positions. In addition, liaising with other YTP teams from other societies like the TTS and the European Society for Organ Transplantation will increase exposure and enhance sharing of knowledge, skills, and experience.

In conclusion, the youth population is the largest population group in the MESOT region for the upcoming decade. Young transplant professionals in the MESOT region are less well-prepared to face the modern challenges in transplant services. Therefore, a dedicated MESOT-YTP team could start the mission and sustain it. The wise and generous support of the MESOT leadership is critical for a successful platform. Furthermore, collaboration and networking with other YTP teams from other societies will aid in helping YTPs in the MESOT region through sharing of experiences.


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Volume : 20
Issue : 3
Pages : 86 - 88
DOI : 10.6002/ect.MESOT2021.O38


From the Nephrology and Renal Transplantation Center, The Medical City, Baghdad, Iraq
Acknowledgements: The author has not received any funding or grants in support of the presented research or for the preparation of this work and has no declarations of potential conflicts interest. The author would like to thank the collaboration of Dr. S. Sandal, Canada (TTS-ECMC), Dr. H. Esser, UK (ESOT-YPT), and Dr. K. Habchi, Algeria, for participation in the young transplant professional session at the Middle East Society for Organ Transplantation Congress and inspiring ideas for the manuscript writing.
Corresponding author: Ala Ali, Consultant Nephrologist and Transplant Physician, Nephrology and Renal Transplantation Center, The Medical City, Baghdad, Iraq