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Protecting Our Protected Characteristics: ISHLT President's Mid-Term Report

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Andrew J. Fisher, FRCP, PhD
ISHLT President

As we enter December 2017 and those of us in the Northern hemisphere start to feel the cold chill of winter arrive and those of you in the Southern Hemisphere look forward to the warmth of the summer, we must take a few moments to remember the events that occurred 50 years ago in South Africa when the first human heart transplantation was performed. This momentous event in modern medical history is being celebrated in many ways this month and certainly, at the ISHLT we are making our own contribution. The December edition of JHLT is dedicated to this anniversary and contains a number of fascinating articles and is well worth a cover to cover read (http://www.jhltonline.org/current).

As I pass the mid-point of my term as ISHLT President and knowing in detail all the productive activities our community is involved in, I have taken a moment to reflect on how far the field of Thoracic Organ Transplantation has come in this momentous half century.

I strongly believe that the same incredible multi-disciplinary teamwork that generated critical breakthroughs in turning an experimental surgical procedure into a semi-routine therapy and lifelong care is alive and well in the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation in 2017. Indeed, it is that very teamwork that allows thousands of hearts and lungs to be successfully transplanted, thousands of mechanical circulatory support devices to be successfully implanted and thousands of patients with advanced cardiopulmonary disease to be successfully treated each year around the world.

Yes, the Society has changed since it started back in 1981, it has grown as our clinical disciplines and the science underpinning them have equally grown in stature. The diversity of the ISHLT membership continues to increase as all the professions, disciplines and specialties who are committed to improving the lives of people with advanced heart and lung disease see the Society as their professional home. It's this melting pot of skills, experiences and professional cultures , which makes the ISHLT unique as a professional society as is a characteristic we must celebrate but also protect. Our membership is increasing year by year and our Annual Meeting footprint continues to grow with increasing attendance and more abstract submissions for our 2018 meeting than ever before.

At a time when global tensions are running high and relations between many countries are strained, it is essential we also remember that other protected characteristic of ISHLT - the fact we are an international society. As an ISHLT member from Europe myself (and yes, I will always consider the UK as part of Europe despite the "B" word!), then one of my aims as President has been to make sure we protect the international diversity of the Society. This was a major focus at our recent ISHLT Leadership Retreat held in London in October 2017, when the Board of Directors and the Chairs of all our Scientific Councils and Standing Committees came together for 2 days to evaluate our performance and strategy in our protected characteristics.

As an indication of our wish to be a global society, I am pleased to report that this year we have held joint symposia with regional societies in South America (Brazil) and Southeast Asia (Singapore) which have been hugely well received, and we already have a number lined up for 2018. In addition, translation of selected key ISHLT guidelines into other languages, initially Spanish, is underway.

Our 2018 Annual Meeting is being held in Nice on the southern coast of France, and I am grateful to our Programme Chair, Chris Benden and the entire Programme Committee for their continued efforts to pull together an exceptional programme.

Furthermore, I am delighted to inform you that the Board of Directors at their recent meeting in Europe agreed to host the 2021 ISHLT Annual Meeting in Sydney, Australia. This is a clear indicator of the Society's commitment to engage our global community and respects of the significant contribution to our mission made by our colleagues in the Asia-Pacific region.

Finally, as we approach a period of annual holidays and festivals, I hope all our members have some quality time with their families and loved ones, and may I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and healthy 2018. Hope to see you in Nice!! ■

Disclosure Statement: The author has on conflicts of interest to disclose.

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