Letter from the president
Dear Members and Friends,
Welcome to the ETCO Website!
The European Transplant Coordinators Organization (ETCO) is an international organization of transplant coordinators, non profit and democratically structured, with members from all over the world including most European countries (33) and which has been running for 26 years and becoming increasingly active, professional and representative.
The main aim of ETCO is to promote donation in European countries and contribute to solving the organ shortage by improving knowledge and practice in the organ and tissue procurement process.
As a Transplant Coordinator and Transplant Surgeon, I am well aware of the importance and responsibility we have as Transplant Coordinators in all the donation / transplantation process and I believe ETCO does and can do a lot in supporting this role.
In this website you will find links with major Organizations and Scientific Societies devoted to organ and tissue donation and transplantation, a detailed calendar of events, selected outstanding articles in this field, legislation, guidelines of ETCO certification process, the main educational courses available in Europe, and statistics about organ donation and transplantation, provided by the IRODAT. Also a link to our official Journal "Organs and Tissues" is offered. Our members also share a forum where they receive fast, expert replies to any questions they may have in all fields of transplant coordination. Members can choose to give their contacts on the members list for networking.
Transplant Coordination should be considered one of the most important conquests in the remarkable story of transplantation because it is responsible for increasing transplantation activity and it is the solution for the main limitation to transplantation in the last 2 decades: organ shortage.
Transplant coordination is in fact an emerging health profession with increasingly complex responsibilities and standards of expertise. We are responsible for managing the whole donation process in order to maximize the rate of organ and tissue donation from deceased donors. In addition, the transplant coordinators must continuously promote donation and transplantation in different spheres of the society, including education.
The number of transplant coordinators is increasing all over the world, with a clear relationship between their number and qualification, and the success rates of organ procurement and transplantation programmes.
There are currently 56,000 patients waiting for a suitable organ in the European Union and it is estimated that 12 people die every day while waiting for a transplant. There is also a huge difference in organ donation rates throughout Europe (34.2 donor's pmp in Spain and 1.1 in Bulgaria in 2008).
Our contribution to solving the organ shortage and to harmonizing the donation rate in Europe is by improving knowledge and practice in the procurement process. We do this by best practice: up-to-date medical and technical advances, improved procedures and quality assessment, all within the legal and ethical framework we practice in.
ETCO considers education a prerequisite to improving organ procurement and donation rates, and to achieve this goal we run a congress every year in Europe - the European Organ Donation Congress - alone or in collaboration with other societies that share with us clinical and scientific interests in organ donation and transplantation (the last one was in Berlin in 2009 jointly with ISODP), as well as workshops and courses in order to keep professionals up to date with the latest procedures and research.
All ETCO educational initiatives are now under internal quality assessment control, and congresses and meetings are routinely accredited by the European Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, EACCME.
We have focused our attention and support on Eastern European countries holding the 2006 Meeting in Wroclaw-Poland, the 2007 Congress in Prague (jointly with the European Society for Organ Transplantation), the 2008 Meeting in Riga, Latvia and supporting educational national workshops in the Slovak Republic (2), and Moldova as well as one in Georgia next year.
The idea behind these national workshops was to create high level, practical, low-cost workshops for transplant co-coordinators, in their own country and language. Long-term results have been very positive and encourage the planning of this type of workshop in other countries.
As an organization we are committed to providing the support our members need to fulfill their professional goals.
One of the major services we have given is to organize the Certification of European Transplant Coordinators, the only pan-European accreditation of transplant coordination and one which has contributed enormously to establishing levels of practice and gaining recognition for the position of TCs.
With seven years experience and 396 TC's accredited, ETCO has pioneered this important international qualification and is now updating it to meet the European Council's recommendations and resituating it in the European stage.
The Recommendation of the European Council on the role and training of professionals responsible for organ donation identified "the need for high standard of professional training, to ensure the highest possible professional and ethical standards in organ donation and procurement and stated that Member states should establish formal national or international accreditation for donor coordination activities. National training requirements should, as far as possible, be consistent with internationally established accreditation mechanisms. There should also be a system in place for periodic evaluation of all donor co-coordinators and for ensuring their continuing professional development.
After two years' studying international models, consulting with fraternal organizations and holding meetings with experts in the field, ETCO has applied to the European Union of Medical Specialists to organize the CETC under its auspices. The UEMS is a prestigious, experienced and efficient organization, renowned for its high standards and objectivity, and with enormous experience in accrediting and examining health care professionals from many specialist fields.
ETCO's proposal is to form a board, in collaboration with the Division of Transplantation of the Section of Surgery of the UEMS, with representatives from all European states, from which executive and committee will be drawn. The already existing ETCO's CETC committee will be a scientific advisory committee responsible for updating and defining the content of the exams.
Eligibility, examination, evaluation and quality control standards will be homologous with those of the UEMS. Examinations will be held annually at the ETCO congress. This proposal has been approved by the Division of Transplantation and the Section of Surgery of the UEMS.
Our objective is to recommence the CETC at the European Organ Donation Congress, in Cardiff in September 2010 with an oral examination in General Transplant Coordination and further specialized modules. Honorary certification will be offered to highly experienced TCs during the first 2 years.
We strongly believe in cooperation with other organizations and societies which share with us scientific and clinical interest in organ donation and transplantation. ETCO recognizes the need to work together with intensivists, surgeons, nurses, psychologists and all health professionals involved in the donation transplantation process.
In line with this policy ETCO has made cooperation agreements with 9 fraternal organizations to create a platform of mutual support, which will be useful and beneficial for our members.
As a result of the fraternal cooperation agreement between ETCO and the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine we are honored to organize every congress of both societies a joint session. These sessions include some of the state-of-the art topics related to intensive care medicine and organ donation. We are sure that the discussion among experts in both fields that will strengthen the cooperation between intensive care medicine and transplant coordination.
The new website and the new OT&C editorial project are contributing to ETCO's recognition and efficiency, offering TCs a brilliant scientific arena and the continuous exchange of information and data.
The ETCO National Key Members committee, chaired by Tina Coco, has become a valuable resource for collecting and sharing data from Europe, Asia, Oceania and America, facilitating international standardization and spreading all relevant cultural, ethical and organizational aspects of organ donation. Thus ETCO NKM's should be recognized by their National Organizations as opinion leaders in the field.
For all this, ETCO must be considered one of the most important stakeholders by the European Commission and the Council of Europe and be recognized as the real link between professionalized Transplant Coordinators, National Organizations and all the health care professionals involved in organ and tissue donation and transplantation.
But to achieve these goals we need membership and sponsorship. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the role of those companies that support organ donation initiatives and appeal to the others to pay more attention to the donation side and support the people who really make transplantation possible, the Transplant Coordinators, because, as we all know, without organs there is no transplantation.
We welcome your ideas and suggestions and we ask you for your support and feedback in implementing them. Visit our webpage, join our organization, become an ETCO Member!
With very best regards,
Rui Maio, MD, PhD, FEBS, CETC