At the initiative of the Wife of the President, Elizabeta Gjorgievska, a panel discussion was held last night on “Organ Donation – Situation and Challenges”, aimed at raising public awareness about organ donation and transplantation development in our country.
In her address to the audience, Gjorgievska said that in extremely difficult conditions, when the focus of the Macedonian health system is focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, in our country this year for the first time a heart transplant was performed, as well as ten kidney transplants.
“Of course, the challenges accompanying organ donation and transplantation are really huge, even for systems that are far more advanced than ours, but the knowledge, the readiness, the capacity and, most importantly, the enthusiasm of all those who are involved in the process itself, I believe that will continue to result in success”, Gjorgievska said.
At the event, which was attended by President Stevo Pendarovski and students, members of the Macedonian Medical Students Association and the Association of Medical Students, among the speakers was Mare Kezaroska, who two years ago together with her brother, agreed to donate the two kidneys of their deceased mother.
“It is difficult when you know that there is no hope for your loved one anymore. The decision to donate an organ from your loved one, who is leaving this world soon, is not difficult at all, because you know that you are giving someone a chance for life”, Kezaroska said.
Vasil Ognjanovski, son of Ivan Ognjanovski, who had a heart transplant in May, stressed at the panel discussion that awareness of organ donation should be at a higher level and no longer be a taboo. As Ognjanovski said, he expects as many people as possible to follow the humane gesture of the family of the deceased Emilija Dineva.
I can say that I do not perceive the Dinevi family as a family that donated an organ, but I feel like I was born in that family. We communicate almost every day. I had the opportunity to spend the summer with them. It was a moment full of emotions of sadness and happiness. I have no words to describe it. I am grateful to God for giving me a chance to have another brother, another sister, and I can say that I feel their father as my second father”, Ognjanovski said.
The Minister of Health, Venko Filipce, said that transplantation is an area that always brings challenges, because it is performed with a multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary approach. Minister Filipce stressed that it is important to raise public awareness of organ donation, through open access, information sharing, as well as sharing success stories.
“Transplantation is a ray of hope not only for patients, but also for patients’ families, their friends, but also for the society”, Minister Filipce said.
According to Dr. Maja Mojsova Mijovska, National Coordinator for Transplantation, organ donation is a generally accepted and successful method of treatment, which prolongs life, improves its quality and is economically viable, because, as she stressed, costs much less than all other methods of keeping patients alive.
At the panel discussion, Dr. Sasho Dohchev, Head of the Transplant Team at the Urology Clinic pointed out the need for support from the Government, the Ministry of Health, the Health Fund, but also the NGO sector and the media to emphasize the importance of organ donation and to raise awareness among the people.
Dr. Sashko Jovev, Cardiac Surgeon, leader of the team that performed the first heart transplant in our country, had his presentation at the panel discussion, emphasizing that it was the result of several years of preparation and the experience gained so far.
Dr. Kristijan Bundovski, a specialist in vascular surgery, who was part of the team that performed the first heart transplant, shared his experiences with the audience, calling it a night that made history in the Macedonian healthcare and a morning that, amid the pandemic, in the whole country brought hope.
“Our clinic is ready to perform a transplant at virtually any moment, for which we should all be proud, because it shows that only with a set goal and hard work can we achieve much more than what we bow to Hippocrates”, Bundovski said.
Dushko Gjorgjiev, President of the Association of Kidney Patients “Nefron” appealed the transplantation in the country to take place at an even faster pace and dialysis patients to be enabled kidney transplant as soon as possible, because as he said, dialysis life is extremely difficult, complex and painful.
Danijel Todorovski, President of the National Association “Brave Heart”, stressed the need to raise awareness about organ donation.
“If blood has been donated for 70 years and now we do not have a problem with blood donation and providing blood to clinics, let’s start talking about organ donation, the possibility, what we often say – with a heart transplant, we the Brave Heart patients, with mechanical support, we can be like you, live a normal life. But you have to realize that you all can be in my shoes at one time. Then, when we start thinking like this, talk openly about these things, we will be able to talk about successful organ donation actions”, Todorovski said.
Previously, on the topic of organ donation, Elizabeta Gjorgievska talked with representatives of families whose relatives donated and received an organ, as well as with stakeholders in the health system in the field of transplantation.