Hotel Sede in Cartagena, Colombia was the host to this year’s International Transplant Congress with prestigious physicians from around the world including those from Spain, Mexico, and the United States. The event, organized by the Colombian Society of Transplantation, featured an all-female panel of speakers – a first for this organization.

Among the eight speakers were Lilian Abbo, MD, chief of infection control/prevention and antimicrobial stewardship  at Jackson Health System, and associate chief of patient safety at UHealth – University of Miami Health System, and Giselle Guerra, MD, medical director of the Living Donor Kidney Program at the Miami Transplant Institute (MTI) at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.

“The Colombian Society of Transplantation is leading by example organizing this meeting to advance knowledge and recognize the role of women providers in transplantation,” said Dr. Abbo. “It was an honor to participate in this event representing MTI, Jackson, and UHealth.”

This event was organized by the Colombian Association of Organ Transplant also known as Asociacion Colombiana de Trasplante de Organos – A.C.T.O. in Spanish. Dr. Abbo spoke to attendees about infections by multi-resistant germs in organ transplants along with the control and prevention of infection in transplantation of solid organs; Dr. Guerra spoke on new strategies to increase living donation and use of different immunosuppression regimens in hopes of improving kidney allograft survival.

“As a woman leader in the field of transplantation, I was very proud to represent MTI in this capacity; but more importantly, to have the opportunity to collaborate in future clinical and research endeavors with other transplant providers in the Western Hemisphere,” said Dr. Guerra.

Other topics of discussions included Spain’s outreach to encourage people to become organ donors, Colombia’s laws and its challenges at a national level, global transplant practices and taboo attitudes, the realities and solutions for the world’s traffic of organs, and organ donation while pregnant.

At Miami Transplant Institute our patients come from all across the globe to seek treatment with an employee base that also represents cultural diversity. Our surgeons perform more than 450 transplants a year and it is one of the most comprehensive programs in the nation. It is also the only center in the southeast United States that performs all organ transplants for both adult and pediatric patients.

“This Congress was the first of its kind putting women in the forefront,” said Dr. Guerra.

“I have no doubt it will continue to flourish paving the way for future transplant meetings.”

The participation of Dr. Abbo and Dr. Guerra was organized through international collaboration through the leadership of Gaetano Ciancio, MD, MBA, FACS, chief medical officer and director of kidney and kidney-pancreas transplant program at the Miami Transplant Institute, along with Colombian physicians, Yenny Baez Suarez, MD, and Alejandro Nino Murcia, MD.

“Hopefully many more societies and program planning committees will recognize the importance of gender inclusion,” said Dr. Abbo. “Currently, 50 percent of our medical students and faculty are female.”