Urologist Dr Gerhard Reinaldi Situmorang is working hard to make kidney transplantations more successful and accessible to patients in Indonesia.
Gerhard did a one-year double degree program at the University of Melbourne in 2004 as part of his studies in the University of Indonesia’s International Class.
The experience, and opportunity to explore the field of transplantation, set the direction for his career in medicine.
What are your strongest memories from the University of Melbourne?
I have always wanted to pursue a career in transplantation. Studying in Melbourne was the first time I was exposed to transplantation – not only the science and knowledge, but also the life and careers of the personnel involved in transplantation, the technicalities and support system, and, more importantly, the impact it brings to patients' lives.
The time I spent in Liver Transplant Unit, Austin Hospital, Heidelberg, and Royal Children’s Hospital is one of the best memories of my time in University of Melbourne. I can definitely say that it directed my future career path and inspired me to become what I am now.
Scientifically, I have obviously learned a lot, but beyond that, I am grateful to have been able to meet and interact with transplant surgeons with the best personalities.
Tell us more about your current role.
I am currently a clinical teacher at the Faculty of Medicine, Universitas Indonesia and RSCM (a national referral hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia).
Most of my clinical work focuses on kidney transplantation and paediatric urology. I am also involved in research activities in the field of kidney transplantation and paediatric urology. I am the Vice Chair of Organ and Tissue Transplant Unit in RSCM, responsible developing and monitoring transplant activities in RSCM.
I am closely involved in the development of national transplant service and registry, as well as the development of cadaveric transplant and donor registry through the Adhoc committee of the Indonesian National Transplantation Committee. I actively contribute to the development of kidney transplant service in Indonesia through the national mentorship program, by performing direct surgical training at the newly appointed kidney transplant centres in Indonesia.
I also lead the Young Urologist Section of the Indonesian Urological Society and am actively involved as an international liaison officer for the Indonesian Transplantation Society.
What are some career highlights so far?
Completing my PhD fellowship program and beginning my career as a kidney transplant surgeon. After graduating, I set a goal to improve the quality of transplant services in Indonesia. This is heading in the right direction with the increase of transplant units all around Indonesia under the guidance from all the transplant team at RSCM Hospital and Fakultas Kedokteran Universitas Indonesia (FKUI).
What excites you most about the future?
What excites me most about the future is the continuous advancement in kidney transplantation and its potential to transform the lives of patients with kidney disease. We're at a pivotal point in the field, with ongoing research, innovations, and collaborations that hold incredible promise.
One of the most exciting aspects is the evolution of organ preservation techniques and the development of new technologies to improve the quality of donor organs. This means we can potentially expand the pool of available organs, reducing wait times and offering hope to more patients in need of a transplant.
The potential for regenerative medicine and bioengineering is another aspect that fills me with enthusiasm. Researchers are exploring the creation of lab-grown organs and tissues, which could address the shortage of donor organs and reduce the need for lifelong immunosuppression.
Ultimately, what excites me the most is the opportunity to be part of this transformative journey. Witnessing patients regain their health, independence, and quality of life after transplantation is incredibly rewarding.
The future holds the potential to make kidney transplantation more accessible, successful, and tailored to each patient's unique needs, and I am honoured to contribute to that future.
What advice do you have for current students?
Everything is possible, for those who believe. It might not be clear or straightforward in the beginning. Some doors might be closed for you. Some people would say that you will never make it, that you don't have what it takes.
Remember, that it is you against yourself. Don’t falter in the face of a challenge. Hardships are just a step towards success. Believe in the purpose, think with the end in mind, and do whatever you can to make it happen, even if it appears small and insignificant. You will get your reward.