Guest post by Dr Birgit Obermüller: Transplantation workshop report

Dr Birgit Obermüller, a MedNet member who attended our Spring 2019 workshop on transplantation, has kindly written a report of the day’s events. Thank you Birgit!

On Friday 26 April 2019 MedNet held its spring workshop at the University of Leeds. Around 50 attendees, including 10 Leeds students working towards an MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies, gathered for a full day of talks, networking and a translation session. The guest speaker was Professor David Talbot, Consultant Transplant Surgeon at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His current research focus is on kidney, liver and pancreas transplantation, with a particular interest in the development of methods to improve the quality of organs from marginal donors and especially the non-heart-beating donor.

The morning lecture provided an introduction to transplant surgery, including a short historical overview ranging from crude and inevitably disastrous pre-medieval attempts through to the first successful kidney transplant in humans in Boston in 1954 which paved the way for modern-day transplant surgery. Prof. Talbot explained the importance of blood group and tissue compatibility, outlined the key roles played by the immune system, the inflammatory response and immunosuppressive agents, and illustrated step-by-step transplantation processes, including factors in donor and recipient selection.

After lunch Prof. Talbot turned to donor/organ shortages and the strategies adopted by various countries to overcome these. After covering the Human Tissue Act (2004) that defined and clarified the non-heart-beating donor, he went on to explain how a kidney swap works and how live liver donations have been made possible. He further focused on the difference between donation after brain death (DBD) and donation after circulatory death (DCD) – the topic of most of the texts used for the practical translation session afterwards. The audience learnt about perfusion techniques for various organs (with explicit video material), the varieties of legislation governing transplant surgery in different countries, and the ‘opt-out’ rule that will come into force in the UK in 2020. With his accumulated lifetime of expertise and often humorous take on some of the technical intricacies of his trade, Prof. Talbot engaged superbly with his audience, frequently pausing in mid-lecture to answer questions in detail.

The refreshment breaks afforded ample time for lively discussion of questions arising from the lectures (e.g. becoming an organ donor; the implications of changing from an ‘opt-in’ to an ‘opt-out’ system; whether next-of-kin/relatives should still be consulted; and possible solutions to the donor organ shortage) as well as for general networking and career advice.

The workshop concluded with a practical translation session in seven break-out groups (into EN from DE/FR/ES/IT/DK; out of EN into DE/ES) using current research publications matched to the day’s topic. As co-author of the selected EN text and personally knowing some authors of the texts in other languages, Prof. Talbot was ideally placed to advise on specific questions relating to problematic terms or procedures encountered by the groups. The MA students also impressed with their thorough preparation and thoughtful discussion contributions.

Post-workshop drinks in the Students’ Union followed by dinner in Leeds city centre provided opportunity to relax and unwind from the day’s intense learning and translation experience and to continue networking with fellow MedNetters. This tweet is representative of many: ‘Outstanding workshop; inspiring, knowledgeable and entertaining speaker; invaluable insight; great organisation, venue and food; fun and convivial evening; a very enjoyable day.’

A special word of thanks to the MedNet Committee – especially to Maggie Hook (who recruited the speaker) and to Carmen Swanwick-Roa (who served as local workshop coordinator) – and to the Centre for Translation Studies at the University of Leeds for practical organisational support.

Dr Birgit Obermüller