It is officially Transplant Heroes Week (May 15-19) and the perfect opportunity for us to thank the transplant staff for all the work they do to support transplantation year round. Over the last 11 years, teams of transplant recipients, living donors and donor families delivered treats to transplant clinic staff as a thank you and this year has been no different. We are so happy to see the positive interactions between all of the amazing healthcare staff and the transplant community. They are so grateful to the staff for the service and dedication that they have received throughout their journey of organ donation.
In addition, we are excited to feature our new pharmacist at BC Transplant, Catherine Cheung. She recently joined our team but prior to this, she worked as a transplant pharmacist at the Fraser Health Post Transplant Clinic since 2018. During her hospital residency, she developed a vast interest in clinical management and research in dialysis, chronic kidney disease, and kidney transplant patients. Since then, Catherine is very passionate about improving care for transplant patients across BC.
Catherine shares more about her passion for her work, “I love that I have the privilege to take care of these transplant patients who are all given a second chance at life. It is a very humbling experience. I still remember getting a hand-written letter from one of our patients saying how grateful he is for our care at the clinic during the pandemic. You just don’t get that feeling with any other job!”
Catherine is always seen with a smile on her face and she is always looking to improve pharmaceutical services for all transplant patients across the province.
She really values making a difference in the lives of recipients, “knowing that I can make sure transplant patients understand their medications and take them correctly to ensure they can keep their organs for as long as possible drives me to wake up and go to work every day.”
Catherine also nominated a fellow staff from her previous position to be featured as a Transplant Hero from the Pre-Transplant Program at Fraser Health. Roberta Al Housani started her transplant journey in 1999 when she joined BC Transplant as a relief coordinator. Roberta shares more about her journey from there, “it was here that I started my transplant education and since then have been involved in various transplant related adventures, from pre- to post-transplant and everything in between.” In addition, Roberta has been very passionate about research, she has undertaken several research projects throughout her career. “My latest research project was a study about oncology screening in post-renal transplant recipients in BC, which has been accepted as a poster presentation at the upcoming American Transplant Congress in San Diego.”
Roberta presenting at The Transplantation Society 2016 congress in Hong Kong on the challenges of starting a country’s first transplant program.
Roberta also shared more on the impact she has seen that BC Transplant and BC Renal has had beyond our provincial borders. “I left BC in 2000 to join with InterHealth Canada in building a renal program in Abu Dhabi. I used the information I learned from BC Children’s Hospital to start the UAE’s first pediatric dialysis unit in 2002, and then from 2008-2017 was one of a team of five that built the country’s first transplant program. The nephrologist and I were responsible for establishing the policies and procedures and for training the staff. This was accomplished using the knowledge and experience I gained from working at BC Transplant, and by utilizing the BC Transplant guidelines (fully credited of course) as our base model to help set up our own polices and procedures. We had only four transplants our first year and by the time I left we were doing up to one transplant per week. The groundwork laid by experience and resources I had from BC Transplant directly contributed to this success.”
We also had BCT volunteer, Amy nominate another Transplant Hero from Vancouver General Hospital. Tiffany Ling is the Clinical Nurse Coordinator for post-kidney transplants and has held a transplant role since 2016. Amy shares more about her experience with Tiffany. “Her warm and empathetic nature shines through every time we speak. She consistently keeps us informed about the progress and any changes in my mom's condition with clear explanations. Her willingness to answer our questions is very much appreciated! It has been a very positive experience she has provided to my mom, we are very fortune to have Tiffany as my mom's nurse.” On the other side, Tiffany shares more about why she enjoys working in the transplant field, “I always had a soft spot for transplant after my schooling because there was something so positive about seeing very sickly patients coming in and then leaving as a whole new person. Some of them had even come back to visit us after a year and were truly unrecognizable (in a good way!). Seeing people get a second chance at life is what motivated me to continue on in nursing.”
Tiffany has also expressed her gratitude towards working with an amazing team at VGH. She shares more about her experiences with the transplant team, “I feel blessed to work with such an amazing team of experts. I feel like currently I am working in a well-oiled machine. From the transplant nephrologists, pharmacists, dieticians, medical office assistants, social workers and of course the other nurses- we all work hard together to achieve the same goals of caring for our patients. I really appreciate every single person’s contributions and expertise- I feel like I learn from my colleagues every day. Working in a well-supported environment has helped me to continue being a good nurse.”
These were only three amazing examples of transplant staff and their daily experiences within the world of organ donation and transplantation. In reality, all of our transplant staff are true transplant heroes as they provide immense care, service and dedication to all transplant patients across the province. We are so grateful to every single individual for the big and small roles you all play to improve healthcare services to the transplant community, you are truly one of a kind!