Slice of life
For budding surgeons with an interest in complex surgery that is both ethically and technically challenging, transplant surgery may be the ideal career choice. Chris Callaghan, Ayyaz Ali, and Gavin Pettigrew offer a practical guide
- By: Chris Callaghan, Ayyaz Ali, Gavin Pettigrew
More than 2500 solid organ transplant operations are performed each year in the United Kingdom, and with advances in immunosuppression and anaesthetic and surgical techniques, more than 85% of renal, liver, and heart transplants are functioning one year after surgery. Although surgeons from different specialties are concerned with transplantation, transplant surgeons share common characteristics and training requirements.
Some colleagues perceive transplant surgeons to be workaholics who barely see the light of day. Although transplant surgeons do require stamina and the ability to work hard, you do not need to be Superman or Superwoman. You need to be attracted to “big” surgery--long operations on sick patients requiring intensive support services. You must be committed, analytical, and have excellent communication skills. An interest in immunology is an advantage.
Transplant surgery is one of the most “medical” of surgical specialties--you need a good working knowledge of medicine, infectious diseases, and pharmacology. The shortage