The President of the Republic of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, awarded the Order of Ante Starčević to the pioneers in hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, academician Andrija Kaštelan and prof. Ph.D. Boris Labar, pointing out that they managed to reach the world’s top in medicine, for which the richest and most organized nations are competing.
The President awarded the Charter of the Republic of Croatia on Thursday, February 23, 2023. to the Team for hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and cell therapy of the Clinical Hospital Center Zagreb.
The laureates were honored for their exceptional contribution and special merits in healthcare and the development of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in Croatia and the world, and the awards were presented to them on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the first hematopoietic stem cell transplantation performed in this part of Europe.
“There are few disciplines in which countries of our size and financial capabilities can be measured and compared with the world level, but you succeeded and entered that elite society,” said the president, congratulating the winners of awards and recognition.
For their success, he pointed out, knowledge, persistence, faith in success, and finally – the need to help people were crucial.
“I want you to be what you have been for the past 40 years, something above Croatian possibilities. They are getting bigger and bigger even though they are limited by space, time and the size of our nation, but you shifted that norm”, the president stressed.
Hematologist Radovan Vrhovac took the Charter on behalf of the KBC Zagreb Team, while the world-renowned hematologist prof. Ph.D. Boris Labar, under whose leadership the first bone marrow transplant was performed in this part of Europe, before Vienna and Budapest, thanked on behalf of all the awardees.
“Transplantation is still the most effective method of treating leukemia, and on February 8, 1983, in Zagreb, we extracted stem cells from the pelvic bone for the first time,” Labar recalled in his speech.
He also recalled how much effort had to be invested in diagnostics in order to realize a transplant, and today KBC Zagreb is one of the strongest centers for stem cell therapy and their preservation in this part of Europe.
“We developed oncological cytogenetics and molecular genetics for the diagnosis of gene changes in malignant tumors, and our successors continued that path and today they perform five times more transplants compared to our beginnings,” said Labar.
He mentioned numerous doctors, specialists and nurses who participated in the development of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in the Republic of Croatia. He also highlighted the young upstarts, the doctors from Rebro who deal with transplants, pointing out that today they are recognized both in Europe and the world.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.