Canadian Medical Association

Dr. Shaf Keshavjee

Shaf Keshavjee

From the start of his career as a thoracic surgeon, it was clear Dr. Shaf Keshavjee was ready to revolutionize the field of lung transplantation. In 1989, his Master of Science thesis at the University of Toronto (U of T) resulted in the development of low potassium dextran (LPD), a lung preservation solution that has become the world standard for preserving donor lungs organs for transplantation.

In 2008, Dr. Keshavjee broke new ground with his research on using stem cells and genetic modification to treat and repair injured donor lungs. This innovative work led to the development of the Toronto Ex Vivo Lung Perfusion (EVLP) System, a kind of incubator that keeps lungs alive while being treated outside the body. The device has helped expand the pool of viable donor lungs and enhanced the success of transplantation worldwide.

“Not only is this a great scientific achievement, it’s also a great contribution to medical service, improving the wait times for the many patients anxiously awaiting life-saving transplantation.” – Dr. Hugh Scully, professor emeritus, surgery and health policy, U of T

Building a world-class transplant program

Today, Dr. Keshavjee serves as surgeon-in-chief of the Sprott Department of Surgery at University Health Network and is director of the Toronto Lung Transplant Program (TLTP), the largest and most innovative lung transplant program in the world. Already recognized internationally for completing the first-ever single and double lung transplants, the program has experienced a steady increase in both the number of transplants it has performed and patient survival rates. The TLTP uses 40% of the donated lungs it receives, compared with 15% elsewhere in the world.

Through the TLTP, Dr. Keshavjee has also trained and recruited surgeons and physicians from across Europe, Asia and North and South America to learn how to perform ex vivo lung perfusions.

“Dr. Keshavjee has truly made a global impact in the specialty of surgery and organ transplantation,” says Dr. Thomas Waddell, head of thoracic surgery at University Health Network in Toronto. “He has been a fantastic mentor and developer of teams and of individual surgeons and other physicians.”

A global leader in his field

Dr. Keshavjee is the senior author of more than 550 leading peer-reviewed medical publications, many invited presentations and two TED talks.

He is the current president of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery, the world’s top academic society for cardiac and thoracic surgeons — a rare honour for a Canadian surgeon.

Dr. Shaf Keshavjee is receiving the F.N.G. Starr Award in recognition of his outstanding and inspiring lifetime achievement.

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