10 February 2017

Vivere by Ugo Bertotti: a graphic book on transplantation

Vivere by Ugo Bertotti: a graphic book on transplantation

On February 8, at Teatro Sala Uno in Rome, Ugo Bertotti presented and read excerpts from his graphic novel Vivere (Coconino Press-Fandango editions). The occasion was the launch of a new art/music project called If Beethoven was a punk.Vivere deals with the difficult subject of organ transplants and donation, and is based on true events that took place at ISMETT-IRCSS in Palermo, a center of excellence for transplantation and high-specialty therapies established from a collaboration between UPMC and the Region of Sicily.

Selma was a Palestinian refugee who had decided to flee from Syria with her husband and two kids in search of a better life. During the boat trip with other refugees also escaping the war, Selma suffered a terrible head injury. When she arrived in Syracuse, Sicily,  the emergency team could do nothing to save her. Her family, with the support of a Palestinian nephrologist working in Syracuse, authorized the organ donation. Thanks to this, three Italian patients who had been on the waiting list for a long time were able to receive a transplant alongside Selma’s most precious gifts: life.

Mr. Bertotti’s research for his book involved interviewing Selma’s relatives and friends, the ISMETT-IRCSS physicians, and meeting the three patients who were able to return to life thanks to Selma’s organs. Vivere calls to reflect on this sensitive subject, advocates for organ donation, and follows the many organ donation campaigns launched in the last few years by the Italian Ministry of Health. Organ donation data in Italy in 2016 is very encouraging: 3,736 transplants performed – the highest number ever in this country. Living-related donations are increasing after the 20.4% boost already reported in 2015. However, in Italy the gap between the number of patients requiring a transplant and the available organs still remains a serious issue.

ISMETT-IRCSS currently performs all surgical techniques that help reduce this gap, particularly the “split liver” (during which the donor’s liver is split for two recipients) and living-related transplants for which ISMETT-IRCSS can rely on its extensive experience. Other combined transplants, including liver-kidneys or liver-lungs, are also performed at ISMETT-IRCSS. The clinical results achieved and available from the ISMETT-IRCSS and National Transplant Center official websites, are among the best on a national and international level.