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ISHLT 2016 Re-cap: Looking Back, Peering Forwards

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John Dark, MB, FRCS
Freeman Hospital
Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

"The Best Ever Meeting" - Stephan Schueler
"The Very Best Society" - Hermann Reichenspurner

Quotes from two ex-Presidents, encapsulating what many thought about 2016, Washington and the ISHLT. The Programme Chair and Committee built on previous experience, but used the site, a bit more money and a lot of imagination to put together an event of unparalleled splendor.

Great plenaries, with a good mixture of science, politics and entertainment. Well-chosen and well-paced sessions; there was always something good to see and hear. And a huge audience, approaching 4000 registrants, a clear record for the Society. Lots of posters, maybe not all receiving the attention they deserved, but it gets people through the doors, backsides on seats. The result was a constant buzz- old friends, new ideas, fresh views; innovations at every turn.

To (almost) round it off, the Natural History Museum was an inspired choice for the Friday night Reception. Friends you had missed all week appearing from behind a hairy mammoth, new collaborations spawned underneath a giant walrus.

Much, inevitably, was incremental. VADs with lower thrombosis rates, more (and apparently cheaper) ambulatory ECMO, better drug combinations and even yoga in pulmonary hypertension. We heard a lot about frailty, a new buzz-word, and the issues of lung transplants in the over seventies. The yes/no debate enlivened by positive data from using older donors. And some things never change - infection and DSA, although we know more about both, are unavoidable, like death and income tax. Some might put tissue engineering in the same category, but there are suddenly real prospects for men as well as mice.

Then, when we thought it was great but just more of last year, the unexpected hit us. DCD heart transplants, in the Friday plenary, clearly work, and at a stroke, might increase activity by 30%. The haunting picture of Louis Washkansky looking back from almost half a century ago, saying "I told you so..."

We finished, in most ways, with a sparkling debate; Mandeep Mehra trying to extrapolate everything from Autobahn mortality rates, Joseph Rodgers quoting Donald Trump as his debating coach. The two left us with that enduring image of "Make the ISHLT Great Again" But it's superfluous - the ISHLT is Great already! ■

Disclosure Statement: The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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