Sixteen doctors and nurses from Malaysia completed training in pediatric liver transplants at Renji Hospital, affiliated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, on Saturday.
The two-week training course at China's largest liver transplant medical center－added to their experience of adult liver transplants in Malaysia－helped prepare them for such programs in their own country. The 16 medical professionals from the University of Malaya Medical Centre will officially begin conducting and participating in pediatric liver transplants at the hospital later this year.
"Renji Hospital is very experienced in liver transplants, including those for children. It boasts the world's largest number of pediatric liver transplants with a high success rate of surgery and long-term survival," said Yoong Boon Koon, head of Hepatopancreaticobiliary and liver transplant surgery at UMMC.
Renji Hospital has completed more than 1,800 liver transplants on children since 2006. In May, the hospital successfully operated on an 80-day-old boy, the country's youngest recipient of a liver transplant.
Yoong said last year the Malaysian hospital sent nearly 20 children under age 12 to receive liver transplants at Renji Hospital. "We still have some patients back in Malaysia who cannot afford to come here, and that inspired us to enhance our own surgical capabilities to help them," he said.
The 13 doctors and three nurses joined the medical team at Renji Hospital in operation rooms and intensive care units to observe preparation and surgeries and learn technical skills in post-surgery patient management. Yoong said each of them was assigned a mentor so that they could observe surgical procedures and ask questions.
"We observed more than 20 transplants during the two weeks, and the volume of surgeries was amazing. I don't think we could have had such an experience anywhere else in the world," he said.
Mira Edura, a nurse from the Intensive Care Unit of pediatrics at UMMC, said the Renji Hospital nurses tutored them on the use of medical instruments, patient management and dealing with side effects.
The team from the Shanghai hospital will travel to Malaysia to perform the first one or two pediatric liver transplants at the hospital and then supervise the Malaysian team during its initial surgeries, Yoong said.
"The need for such transplants is high in our country," he said. "We estimate that more than 20 transplants will be performed at our hospital per year after we launch the medical service."
Xia Qiang, vice-president and head of liver surgery at Renji Hospital, said that a 1-year-old girl became the first Malaysian child to undergo a liver transplant at the Shanghai hospital in 2014. Since then, 36 children from Malaysia have received successful liver transplants at the Shanghai hospital.
"This training is also intended to enhance friendship between the two hospitals and hopefully the two countries. And such undertakings will ultimately help children with end-stage liver diseases in Malaysia, Asia and the world," Xia said.
Yoong said: "Once we've mastered the skill, we'll definitely pass it on to other hospitals in Malaysia as well as in Southeast Asia. I believe that is also the idea of the Belt and Road Initiative－to promote collaborations between countries."