10 Apr 2013
Taking the Lead in Transplant Education
Transplantation medicine is one of the most challenging and complex areas of modern medicine. However, it is not covered in great detail in medical education, and most of the learning happens on the job. To address this gap, SingHealth organised a Basic Transplant Course in December 2012, the first in Singapore. We catch up with Asst Professor Terence Kee, the Course Director, and Senior Consultant, Department of Renal Medicine, SGH.
Why is there a need for this course?
Transplantation medicine is a multidisciplinary specialty requiring the input of various doctors, nurses, coordinators, and allied health professionals. The course aspires to bring all disciplines to the same level so they can contribute better to the care of solid organ transplant recipients.
Organ transplant recipients also get admitted for non-transplant related events, such as childbirth, fractures etc. It is important that we extend transplant education to healthcare professionals in other units, so that the patients get the best care. We also want to create greater awareness of organ and tissue donation and hope that our staff become SingHealth Transplant ambassadors.
Why is SingHealth well-placed to take on the educator role?
We are the biggest healthcare system in Singapore with the largest patient load and case-mix that provides a wealth of clinical experience. We have top notch educators, highly respected mentors, strong partnerships with Duke-NUS and Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine as well as a robust educational system for support. Most of all, we have strong leadership that understands the value of education and the importance of how good education translates into good patient care.
We hope to build on the course and make SingHealth Transplant a regional training centre for transplantation.
What advice would you give to those keen on learning more about transplant?
The best way to learn is to be part of the transplant unit and work with them in caring for patients.
What got you interested in transplantation medicine?
Our duty as healthcare providers is to make a difference to the lives of our patients and their families. I was fascinated by how, overnight, I could stop dialysis in a patient by giving them a successful kidney transplant. I was even more inspired by the tremendous change in the lives of patients and their family members. In fact, the only reason I took up renal medicine as a specialty was to eventually become a transplant physician.
What is the most memorable lesson you've learnt over the years?
To have the courage to do what is good for the patient.
I remember when we did our first ABO (blood groups) incompatible kidney transplant in 2009, we didn't reach the desired antibody level despite the patient having received a significant number of plasmapheresis procedures to remove antibodies. After a phone consult with our Japanese advisor in Kyoto, we went ahead despite the higher antibody level and the patient did not reject the new organ. Had I not trusted my Japanese advisor and let the fear of failure overcome me at that point in time, the patient would have been subjected to more plasmapheresis with more potential problems. We might then never have done this transplant!
What keeps you up at night?
When there is a transplant!
What do you do to unwind?
I am an avid cyclist and try to cover 100km each week, weather permitting. My dream is to participate in a pro-cycling competitive event one day. I also unwind by spending time with my eldest daughter. Whenever a kiddy movie is released, we will go on movie dates and spend the whole day out. Nothing is more relaxing than the freedom that a bicycle ride gives you, and the love that you feel with your kid when you are spending quality time together.
“Transplantation saves lives and changes that of many. It is, therefore, important that all our staff have adequate knowledge of transplantation medicine and help spread the support for organ/tissue donation.”