From Syria to Boston

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Syrian nephrologist Jude Yagan shares her experience as an ISN Fellow in Boston.

“Looking back, the value of teamwork when caring for kidney transplant patients was the most important lesson I learned. The contribution of each person in the team was important for the success of each transplant.”

ISN Global Outreach Fellowships have earned the reputation of giving young nephrologists the tools to kick-start their career. They have given them the chance to learn and share their knowledge, with the mission of improving the state of care in their region.

A challenge that Jude Yagan, from the Mashfa Ibn Rushd Hospital near Aleppo, Syria, was eager to take on. She spent a year at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, USA: “Looking back, the value of teamwork when caring for kidney transplant patients was the most important lesson I learned. The contribution of each person in the team was important for the success of each transplant.”

In Boston, she learned every aspect of caring for a transplant patient from the day of surgery to complications of short and long-term follow-up. “This was not feasible in our hospital in Syria where teaching was scarce as there was only one nephrologist with limited transplant experience.” She talks about being exposed to new ways of teaching and notions of pursuing evidence, discussing and sharing knowledge, teaching and caring for young fellows so they become good nephrologists.

Syria only has seven licensed nephrologists for a population of 4 million and care is basic, especially in the dialysis units where too many patients are dialyzing from a temporary catheter with high morbidity and mortality rates. Since war broke out there has been less hope to start a transplantation program.

Jude adds: “Our daily struggle is to maintain good quality care for our patients despite our limited resources. It is important to constantly educate ourselves as doctors to implement evidence-based medicine and quality care.”

“Unfortunately, many things are out of our control and it can be frustrating, like the sudden lack of drug storage, the struggle to find non-governmental resources and the financial burdens of it on our patients.”

Today, her fellowship experience helped her deal with these issues as she worked with a great team of doctors who never gave up – switching drugs, searching for solutions implemented by other groups worldwide.