At a press conference held by the Foundation on July 22, 2009, a wonderful announcement was made. The following citation comes from Hina:
ZAGREB, July 22, 2009 (Hina) – For the first time, stem cells from the Croatian Registry of voluntary bone marrow donors have saved the life of a patient outside of Croatia – in Austria – and in that way has fulfilled the mission of the Ana Rukavina Foundation to make the possibility of having stem cell transplantations available to as many patients as possible, which was pointed out at today’s press conference for journalists and the Foundation in Zagreb.
The head of the Croatian Registry of voluntary bone marrow donors and the medical director of the Ana Rukavina Foundation, Mirando Mrsić, explained that for the first time, a matching HLA stem cell donor was found in the Croatian Registry and would save the life of someone suffering from leukemia. It is also the first time that a non related donor will be used.
That means, he added, that patients in every part of the world can search for a donor in Croatia if they cannot get bone marrow from a family member. According to him, this is great news for the entire Croatian health system because this means that we are in step with the most developed countries in the world in the fight against malignant diseases.
Mrsić reminded everyone that in 2007, when the Ana Rukavina Foundation was officially established, the Registry of voluntary bone marrow donors only had 156 donors listed, while today, thanks to the Foundation’s actions, the Registry has more than 32,600 donors, of which more than 12,000 blood samples have been tissue typed.
The state secretary of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Dražen Jurković, who signed the consent to export the stem cells to Austria on behalf of Minister Darko Milinović, emphasized that Minister Milinović supported the work of the Ana Rukavina Foundation. He also pointed out that the Ministry had allocated 4.5 million kuna for the work of the Foundation this year, thus matching last year’s allocation and bringing the total amount of the Ministry’s financial support to 9 million kuna. According to Jurković, although significant, this amount is still far from sufficient.
In an emotional statement to the press, the director of the Foundation, Marija Rukavina, explained that the donation of stem cells to a patient outside of Croatia fulfilled the wish of her late daughter, Ana, and that this was truly wonderful news.
She went on to say that all of the effort that had been invested paid off if we could save just one life. She thanked the journalists and everyone that had supported the work of the Foundation in some way. Along with all the supporters, she especially pointed out the support from Minister Milinović, who had given up his travel per diem allowances and had donated them to the Foundation.