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Narrowing the Gap: Improving Kidney Transplantation Skills in Nigeria Through the ISN Fellowship Program

Chimezie Okwuonu from the Federal Medical Centre in Abia State, Nigeria, undertook an ISN Fellowship under supervision from Rasheed Balogun from the University of Virginia Health System, Virginia, USA, in 2023.

Find out more about the ISN Fellowship Program and apply here by May 1

The six-month training focused on kidney transplantation. According to Dr. Okwuonu, kidney care in Nigeria is poorly funded and under-equipped, and renal replacement is inaccessible and unaffordable to many. He comments, “We are worlds apart in terms of managing kidney disease – developed and developing countries – but we believe with time that the gap will become narrower, with commitment and further training.” His main objectives were to learn transplant immunology and improve pre and post-transplant care.

Watch a short video on Dr. Okwuonu’s ISN Fellowship experience:

Dr. Okwuonu learned techniques such as paired donor exchange and procedures for blood group and HLA incompatibility and transplantations involving HIV- and hepatitis-positive patients and donors. In addition, he acquired new skills in the operating theatre and therapeutic apheresis and improved his knowledge of pre-transplant evaluation and patient counseling.

Host mentor Rasheed Balogun (left) with ISN Fellow Chimezie Okwuonu

Professor Balogun commented, “Dr. Okwuonu demonstrated a high degree of commitment to the preset objectives of the fellowship. He also participated in some outcome-based clinical research and has manuscripts under peer review.”

Dr. Okwuonu plans to improve access to transplants in Nigeria by initiating ABO-incompatible and hepatitis B and C transplants and intends to set up an apheresis program there. He was recently accepted into the ISN Emerging Leaders Program for 2024.

He states, “The host mentor was committed to achieving the set objectives of the fellowship. The institution was very supportive. Thank you to the ISN for the opportunity – I strongly recommend ISN Fellowships!”

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