Day 1 #ISTH2019: Ceremonies, Symposia and Waltzing Matilda

Wow! The last 24 hours have been fantastic. It is so exciting to see everyone here in Melbourne, Australia. With over 5000 registered attendees, this congress demonstrates the importance of coming together to share research and clinical experience, and the impact of this on careers and practice. Even with the long distance that many have had to travel, such a large number of people still made it to this 27th ISTH congress.


Published 7 July 2019 | 3 min read

My congress journey began on Saturday, with talks from inspirational leaders focusing on ways to achieve career goals and make an impact within haematology. I also enjoyed oral presentations on Platelet Disorders and Anti-platelet therapies, followed by the SSC session on Perioperative Bleeding and Thrombosis. I was specifically interested in the discussions around viscoelastic monitoring in perioperative and critical care patients, lead by Andres Greinacher. This stemmed conversations that clearly demonstrated that coagulation monitoring in such circumstances can still be very controversial — standard coagulation testing vs bedside testing: which offers a more timely answer and which should be used to direct therapy?

Musicians on stage with audience watching/listening

The Welcome Ceremony and awards ceremony brought feelings of excitement, pride, motivation and empathy. I enjoyed the traditional ‘welcome to country’, and was enthused by the history of the congress symbol and topic stream images. I was moved by the tribute to J. Evan Sadler who was awarded the 2019 ISTH Robert P. Grant Medal; I was motivated by his work, and saddened by his sudden loss.

The highlight of Saturday certainly was the Plenary Session on Postpartum Haemorrhage, given by Beverley J. Hunt from the UK. This session highlighted the ongoing global burden and the serious complications that can arise, including death in many instances.

"It horrified me to learn that in this age of modern medicine, one woman is dying from postpartum haemorrhage on average every four minutes — and more than 50% of these deaths are within five developing countries."

Moving forward we can focus on prevention, education and prompt treatment to reduce this mortality, which currently has a huge impact on social health. I am so glad that this topic was the focus of this first plenary session. The conclusion, a narrative to the tune of the famous Australian bush ballad “Waltzing Matilda”, was a touching finish, before a casual networking function in Melbourne’s large Convention Center, the home of the congress.

On Sunday, I started the day with the State-of-the-Art Session on von Willebrand disease (vWD). This topic is of interest to me and my clinical practice. I particularly enjoyed the discussion around diagnostic dilemmas and the management of young female patients with mild bleeding disorders and menorrhagia. Some of these concepts, predominantly those presented by USA paediatric haematologist Dr Sarah O’Brien, will change my clinical approach to such patients.

The second plenary session was remarkable, with breathtaking images of megakaryocytes, proplatelets and discussions around platelet production. Joseph Italiano discussed in-vitro models, and how this can improve our understanding of complex cells and their pathophysiology.

Continuing the day with my interest in vWD, I was thrilled to attend the oral presentations on this topic later in the morning. I especially enjoyed Orla Rawley’s case presentation on a patient and family with mixed phenotype vWD, having seen and experienced managing a similar patient myself.

"It is always helpful to collaborate with colleagues with such rare scenarios!"
Dr. Steven Lentz presenting at the supported symposium.

Dr. Steven Lentz presenting at the supported symposium.

I attended the supported symposium, and was delighted to see positive outcomes with extended half-life factor VIII therapy, for patients with haemophilia A around the world, with respect to prophylaxis and therapy. Clinical outcomes for paediatric patients were particularly promising, and I was encouraged to see that results I have witnessed in local patients are congruent with the worldwide study experience. I am excited to see what the future of therapy and research will bring for patients, and to see the published data for the PUP studies.

I am looking forward to the oral communications on inherited thrombocytopenias and the poster presentations this evening!

See ya later!