Giving Brazilian Transplant Patients the Care They Deserve

2014

mauricio

In Brazil’s major cities, organ transplants have been widely available for barely two decades. And for a variety of reasons, organ recipients have been isolated to society’s margins, rarely able to reenter the workforce and fully participate in their country’s emergence as Latin America’s economic powerhouse. Maurício Galvão, a medical professor at Universidade Potiguar (UnP), is working to change that.

In 2012, Galvão created PROTransplante in partnership with Instituto do Bem (Institute of Good), a health-focused foundation in Natal, Brazil. PROTransplante uses UnP students from several academic disciplines—physical therapy, psychology, nutrition and law—to provide comprehensive care for transplant patients.

Maurício Galvão’s PROTransplante will be a model for the comprehensive treatment of transplant recipients.

For example, psychology students assess patients’ mental health. Healthcare students help develop a patient “life plan,” including a diet and fitness regimen. Physical therapy students help patients regain mobility. And UnP’s legal clinics advise patients about how to receive government assistance. The goal is to improve patients’ quality of life—and, ultimately, reintegrate into society. Galvão, 37 years old, estimates that PROTransplante has already helped more than 100 patients.

Brazil now has one of the world’s most regulated organ transplant systems. Organ transplants from deceased donors are increasing, but donations from the living remain relatively rare. In parts of Brazil—as in other emerging countries— there are deep cultural and religious taboos about organ transplants. Cost is another factor. So is the relatively small number of trained medical professionals, even in large cities like Natal. To raise awareness about transplants, PROTransplante and Instituto do Bem have launched a campaign called “I’m a Donor.” As Brazil becomes a mostly middle-class country, organ transplants will become more common. Maurício Galvão’s PROTransplante will be a model for the comprehensive treatment of transplant recipients.