Hi, and welcome to the HiLIFE-trainee blog! My name is Akseli Bonsdorff and I am a fourth-year medical student at the University of Helsinki and also working on my PhD-thesis in pancreas transplantation and general pancreatic surgery. My first scientific article on the role of early plasma amylase levels in predicting pancreas graft-related complications after pancreas transplantation was published in early 2021 and I received an opportunity to present the key findings of the study at the European Society of Transplantation (ESOT) 2021 congress. ESOT is a biannual congress that brings together transplantation surgeons, nephrologists, hepatologists, pathologists, nurses, and students – such as me – and acts as a platform for discussing novel topics and state-of-the-art findings in the field of transplantation.
This year, ESOT was held as a hybrid conference, and attendees had the chance to choose between on-site or online attendance. For approximately ten to twelve hours a day, I sat and listened through the many inspirational talks, keynotes, presentations, and discussions on topics ranging from the definition of brain death to the implementation of artificial intelligence applications in transplant organ allocation systems, and from the effect of Covid19 on the transplant communities to why living donor liver transplantation is not performed extensively in Western countries but cover the majority of liver transplantations in Asian countries. I am still dumbfounded by the exhaustive coverage of different topics, and probably still- after two weeks from the congress – processing all the new knowledge I gained.
On the third day of the congress came the moment of my presentation. Due to the hybrid model, I had to prerecord the bulk of my presentation and my role during the session was to answer questions arising from the audience on-site and online. The two dutch professors chairing my session were not too harsh on me, and one of them even thanked me for an interesting presentation (which he did for every presenter, but needless to say, it felt nice at the moment). Hybrid or not, my debut was something I will remember for a long time.
Without a doubt, ESOT2021 had provided me everything I expected and probably even more. I had the chance to delve deeper into my own field of research (that being pancreas transplantation), but also received tasters into the other subspecialties in transplantation. I am extremely grateful for the financial and scholarly help from my great mentors Adj. Prof. Ville Sallinen and Adj. Prof. Ilkka Helanterä. I also thank HiLIFE for the support received. Making attending an event like this possible for students and aspiring researchers is extremely appreciated.