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Medical Students Join Lifesaving Organ Transplant Procurements

Students Gain Hands-on Clinical Experience Through the Program in Partnership with Westchester Medical Center’s Surgery Department

April 03, 2024
Students and Faculty on Organ Procurement
Kimberly Pokstis, SOM Class of 2027, (second from left) accompanied Dr. Hiroshi Sogawa (left) on an organ procurement to Ohio

“As medical students, we understand the critical need for donated organs and are driven to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities,” says Beber. “We hope that participation in TEP enables students to become powerful advocates for organ donation and transplantation in their future medical practices and, ultimately, improves the health outcomes of patients.” 

To supplement the students’ clinical experience, foundational educational lectures, such as an introduction to the operating room, research in transplant surgery, and a primer on living-donor liver transplants were also provided.

"The TEP was established in partnership with WMC’s Department of Surgery to enrich medical students’ understanding of human anatomy, surgery, and transplant medicine,” says Ekelmans. “Transplant medicine is interdisciplinary for students in that it integrates advanced surgical techniques, research, ethics, and clinical medicine. We hope that the TEP becomes an integral component of education at NYMC, contributing to the development of well-rounded medical graduates.”

Matthew Weiss, SOM Class of 2026, joined the WMC transplant team on the helicopter for a liver procurement procedure. “An organ donation is a final selfless act, and it was a privilege to be in the room when letters from the donor’s friends and family were read aloud, and for the subsequent moment of silence,” he says. “During the procedure, I was able to scrub in, answering questions from the attending and asking questions myself when appropriate. It was a great learning experience, not only about OR etiquette, the relevant anatomy, and the technique behind the procedure itself but also regarding the teamwork between surgeons and residents from different institutions.”

Kimberly Pokstis, SOM Class of 2027, flew with Dr. Sogawa and his team to Ohio for an organ procurement. “It was my first experience scrubbing into a surgery,” says Pokstis. “Surgical resident Dr. Meghan Molnar was incredibly helpful, walking me through the proper techniques and demonstrating how to gown and glove, as was the scrub nurse Stephanie, who was so patient with me throughout the entire operation. Dr. Sogawa explained in great detail what he was doing and why throughout the procedure and was very kind to let me retract and assist with holding the ureters while he removed the kidneys. Overall, I couldn’t be more grateful for such a wonderful learning opportunity.”