Posted on March 21, 2011

A team from the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) conducted a site visit at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) on March 7-10 as part of activities in support of HMC and the Supreme Council of Health’s (SCH) efforts to develop organ transplant programs in Qatar.

The UNOS is a private, non-profit organization that has a contract with the United States federal government to run the US organ transplant network. The organization brings together specialists from multiple fields intersecting transplantation to help develop transplant programs in the US and around the world.

“At HMC and the SCH, there are many plans to promote organ donation and to develop organ transplantation,” said Dr Riadh Fadhil, Senior Consultant of Urology and Transplant Surgery at HMC. “In implementing these plans, we aim for the best practice in the field of training, and the UNOS is the best in the field in terms of organizational expertise and oversight of registration, donation, transplantation outcome, and organ allocation. We sought the help and support of the UNOS in order to ensure that our protocols, guidelines, staffing and resources are in accordance with world class standards.”

“The UNOS experience in organizing donor registry and research database is superior, and they will assist us in starting our own community-based donor registry. This registry will have a great impact on organ donation in Qatar – which is the main challenge in the progress of organ transplant programs,” added Dr Fadhil. “Few countries besides those in Europe and the US have donor registries. In countries where the donor registry is mature and well-established, organ donation is at a top rate.”

The organ donor registry, to be created in accordance with the Organ Transplant Law Number 21 and the Doha Donation Accord, will enable all inhabitants of Qatar to indicate their consent, through the registry, to organ donation after death.

HMC currently offers kidney and corneal transplant programs, and is in the process of starting a liver transplant program. Dr Fadhil explained that an increase in deceased organ donation will lead to the development of other organ transplant programs, such as those for liver, pancreas and intestine transplant. The development of more transplant programs will in turn necessitate organized documentation to facilitate the study of outcomes and help develop research capabilities. To achieve this, HMC is also working on the creation of a scientific research database with the help of the UNOS.

Kevin Myer, Business Director of the UNOS Center for Transplant System Excellence said, “The UNOS will assist with the development of information technology and information systems to support the development of the organ donation and transplant programs in Qatar. One of our major priorities is to assist in the development of the donor registry, and second, to work with the team here to create a research database and other mechanisms to help with the ongoing development of the transplantation programs.”

“In the US our programs are transplanting almost 25,000 organs per year, and we want to share our knowledge and experience in the development of information technology processes and policies, and in donation improvement practices and efforts, to aid the development of the programs here,” said Myer. He praised the level of support from both HMC and the Qatari government towards the progress of organ transplantation and the implementation of the Doha Donation Accord, which he said is “world class and leading, and serves as an example for the rest of the world to follow.”

“The challenges that Qatar faces are the same that the US faces. Public awareness and education, cultural differences – all pertain to the challenge of donation worldwide. Our experience will help Qatar address some of those challenges,” said Frank Gilg, Director of Sales and Marketing at TII Informatix, which designs systems to help increase operational efficiencies and improve the quality of patient care.

The UNOS team visiting HMC also included John Piano, Chief Executive of Transplant Connect – a Southern California-based developer of medical technology and communications systems. Transplant Connect and TII Informatix support the UNOS's international transplantation efforts by providing consulting and technology services for the development of transplant systems in other countries.