Doctor Juan Andrés Echeverri Cifuentes is 43 years old and his work, in the more than 10 that he has been in medicine, has been recognized by the Colombian government. He along with 9 other compatriots were awarded for being 10 prominent Colombians in Spain, prize awarded by the Colombian Embassy in that country.
Through their professional career they have contributed to strengthen the image of Colombia in Spain and that is why this award was given by Eduardo Ávila, national ambassador in that country.
Juan Andrés Echeverri was nominated by an acquaintance for the call for Colombians to do some kind of special work and he achieved this recognition.
“Very happy. It was an honor for me to receive this recognition from the Government. More than anything because it is a very important incentive for one to continue doing their job on a day-to-day basis. One is in contact with people and with patients and in the end our work is focused on the patient, that is, the patient turns out well, the families are well, which motivates one to seek excellence and the well-being of the patients. ”, confesses the doctor Echeverri.
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But what is his story? Juan Andrés Echeverri graduated in 2004 as a general practitioner from the CES University School of Medicine and four years later he settled in Spain where he began his studies in General Surgery and Digestive System.
Since 2019 it is part of the Transplant and Hepatobiliary Surgery Unit of the Marqués de Valdecilla Hospital in Santander – Cantabria and is part of the group of scientists who tested the first ex vivo perfusion machine in North America.
The machine has a technology that prolongs the life of the organ while it is transplanted to a patient, since with traditional procedures the method makes the organs last less time outside.
“When one removes organs from a donor, the traditional method of organ preservation is in the ice. The organs are lowered to four degrees and then they go to the fridge with ice and that is how they are transported from the place where the donor is, where the transplant is done, but depending on which organ we are going to transplant, they have a time limit: the liver can endure up to 10, 12 hours, the kidney a little longer, up to 24 hours. But already from that time the organ begins to be damaged. We put a new technology to the test to prolong the conservation time of the organ”.
These machines they simulate the human body and perfuse the organs with warm blood. There are some that do it with cold perfusions and there are others that do it at 37 °C, which allows them to be preserved much longer and an objective assessment of the organ can be made before transplantation.
Although each organ is different, this method has been widely used in lungs that are outside the human body and simulate their function under physiological conditions at a temperature of 37 °C with normal circulation, ventilation, and metabolic conditions. It even allows to evaluate, recover and optimize the lungs.
In his case, during his research in Canada, the doctor says that he was in the basic research laboratory and then another two years in a second stage, doing clinical training in Hepatobiliary Surgery and multi-organ Abdominal Transplantation.
“In the first two years we carried out liver and kidney transplant experiments in a pig model and we used the normothermic ex vivo perfusion machine to transplant the organ into the pig and see how it behaved before moving on to a clinical phase,” said the doctor. .
After this, the ex vivo perfusion machines could already be validated and given options to work with human beings, and this was the case. the first step to the clinical trial which was made in North America.
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In addition, the doctor also had the opportunity to participate in a worldwide multi-centre study with a specific ex vivo perfusion machine that was invented in Oxford, UK.
Currently, the doctor Juan Andrés Echeverri Cifuentes lives in Spain and is a hepatobiliary transplant surgeon. He says that he is proud of education in Colombia. They taught him what excellence is and gave him the chance to learn with a global vision, so that, “to be able to be a citizen of the world”.