Croatia Regional Health Development Center leads first transplantation in Montenegro

Clinical Center Montenegro

First organ transplantation in Montenegro

Historic event for advancing transplantation in the Balkan Region through the framework of the South-eastern Europe Health Network

Croatian Minister of Health Rajko Ostojic and a team of ten Croatian transplant doctors and delegates arrived in Podgorica, Montenegro on 24 September 2012 to assist Montenegrin doctors in conducting the first-ever organ transplantation in the country. The procedure, which took place on 25 September, was the first living related kidney transplantation in Montenegro, with a 43-year-old mother donating a kidney to her 25-year-old son. The transplantation was successful, and both mother and son are recovering well. The second living related kidney transplantation took place the next day, immediately following the first as Croatian doctors were on site to assist their Montenegrin colleagues for a mother to donate a kidney to her young daughter. 

The operations were performed at the University Hospital Montenegro under the supervision of Professor Marina Ratkovic, nephrologist, who has been spearheading transplantation efforts in the country and leading the newly established Montenegrin kidney transplant team. 

Minister Ostojic and the Croatian team of doctors and delegates were graciously welcomed by Montenegrin Minister of Health Miodrag Radunovic and country experts. A press conference was held detailing the historic occasion and a reaffirmation by both countries to continue collaborative work in advancing the newly established Montenegrin transplant programme and focusing on deceased donation as a future priority.

Successful collaboration

These landmark events are the direct result of the work of the Regional Health Development Center (RHDC) Croatia led by RHDC Croatia Director Dr Mirela Busic under the framework of the South-eastern Europe Health Network (SEEHN) in partnership with WHO. The Transplantation Society (TTS), the European Society for Organ Transplantation (ESOT) and its chapter the European Transplant Coordinators Organisation (ETCO-EDC), the International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement (ISODP), and the European Commission have served as expert advisors to the RHDC Croatia and region to lend expertise and support for the SEEHN Initiative on Deceased Donation.  

Since the inception of the RHDC Croatia in February 2011, several educational workshops and meetings have been organized to provide professional expertise and technical assistance to SEEHN countries. The ongoing exchange of experience between Montenegro, Croatia, and international experts as facilitated by the RHDC Croatia enabled this historic event only a year and half after collaborative efforts began. Prior to this, patients had been sent to Moscow and Pakistan for transplantations. 

In May 2012, Professor Francis Delmonico of the Transplantation Society, Dr Busic, and RHDC Croatia Project Manager Lydia Raley conducted an onsite visit to Montenegro to meet with Ministry representatives and transplant professionals, offering support and expert guidance for launching a national transplant programme in Montenegro. Shortly thereafter in June 2012, the First Ministerial Conference on Organ Donation and Transplantation was held in Zagreb. Minister of Health Ostojic invited Ministers of Health from ten SEEHN countries to partake in addressing the current status of transplantation in south-eastern Europe, encouraging collaboration and emphasizing Croatia's continued support for advancing sustainable regional transplant and donation activities.