The future of health and medicine is here

The tag line was bold and mundane all at once.

It has probably been used at innumerable conferences before this one. But when the gathering in question is TEDMED 2012, the world takes notice.

How would some of the best minds (70 speakers, over 1000 delegates) give new meaning to a discipline mired in financial, ethical and scientific stalemate? What mind-boggling breakthrough would emerge from this three-and-a-half day idea orgy?

Not that I needed any convincing. As a proud, longstanding TEDaholic, having my scholarship application accepted was all I needed to pack my bags and head to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the new home of TEDMED.

I came. I saw. I took in the grandeur of all the historic conference locations: the Opera House, the Library of Congress, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Building Museum.

I left with some invaluable connections, a couple of personal insights, and a few memorable ideas.

Self-breathing pig lungs and a soprano

Toronto continues to surprise me. I’m constantly reminded of what an amazing hub of innovation and research it is – from environmental, technology and social entrepreneurs to trailblazers in medicine, we’ve got them all!

Organ transplantation has become an increasingly important area of intrigue for me in recent years, and so I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the miraculous exploits of the Lung Transplantation team at the Toronto General Hospital, led by thoracic surgeon Dr. Shav Keshavjee.

Building on a rich tradition of hosptial firsts (first single and double lung transplants and first artifical lung), Keshavjee is currently tackling the mind-boggling problem of decay in lungs harvested from donors before they reach the recipient. He has developed a successful Lung Perfusion system that enables preservation of the organs for up to six hours outside the donor body.

But he hasn’t stopped there.