The Network - Issue 1, Spring 2011
Medical Point of View
Financial increases need to match rise in transplant numbers
This issue, The Network took a few minutes with Ahmed Galal MD, MSc, FRCPC, Provincial Leader of Hematology and Medical Director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, to get his opinion on the issues most impacting the stem cell community.
The Network: Dr. Galal, what are the issues within hematopoietic stem cells that you see as important related to donation and transplantation?
Dr. Galal: First, congratulations to OneMatch for recognizing the need for a succinct voice to share ideas between peers, stakeholders and partners, and all the while being conducive to building Canada's hematopoietic stem cell community.
Being part of Canada's medical and scientific [stem cell] community, and given my work background within various Canadian settings, I see the role of the transplant coordinator as not only one of the larger successes within the transplant setting, but crucial to the donor portion of our business.
Within the environment of a Collection Centre, once a matched unrelated donor arrives at the clinic and proceeds through their evaluation, an uneducated transplant coordinator can make the donor visit a very unpleasant experience. By having the right staff at the right time, we can continue to deliver the right service to our donors.
The Network: What are the big challenges and what should be done to make things easier for transplant programs in Canada?
Dr. Galal: As for 'big' challenges from the transplant viewpoint, the sheer numbers of transplants continue to rise in Canada, but without the reciprocal increase in financial resources. Alternatively, authorities continue to allocate funding for new drug programs with a minimal survival advantage while not looking at transplant as the most successful consolidation treatment to many hematologic malignancies. This coupled with a definitive lack of developmental research in hematopoietic transplants and the lack of a robust database have the ability to put Canada at a distinct disadvantage when being recognized as a world leader in this medical field.
So, challenges continue to be 'big,' but so do our wins, as evidenced by our unrelated search coordinator position at our transplant centres. Given the hurdles mentioned above, the unrelated search coordinator continues to show financial and time efficiencies translating to clear advantages in regards to transplant outcomes.
The Network: With every challenge comes an opportunity, and you and your team in Saskatchewan have taken these opportunities to help build a stronger stem cell community in Canada. Thank you, Dr. Galal, for appearing in our first issue. We wish you all the best.
Dr. Galal: You are most welcome. I look forward to what tomorrow has in store for all our partners in Canada.