Many things are far from functioning in Romania. Not to say that something functioning normally in this country represents a kind of movie script from an unreal future. We have no expressways and not even streets. We do not have decent schools and nurseries that would cover the needs of our current or future children. We do not have an efficient urban water and sewerage system and in communes and villages we do not even have notions about such a thing. As if the eternal village life froze us all in an era in which man still hunts with the bow and walks around wearing animal skins.
We do not have much and it does not look like someone who engages in politics in this country, and who should make us have all of this and much more, has the real intention of making us have much. Like other countries from this century and this continent happen to have.
On the other hand, we have a lot of needs and fears that prematurely ruin our health and literally suffocate us.
And this complete suffocation means, for several hundred Romanians, the urgent need for a lung transplant.
In 21st Century Romania, today’s Romania, the one I’m talking about now, there is – theoretically and officially (not to say officiously) – an ultra-modern Lung Transplant Centre. A medical unit of mark, ready at any time to restore breathing to hundreds and maybe thousands of Romanians suffocated by life and by the country’s political system, but especially to restore the hope that maybe someone – from among those we have been literally carrying on our backs for years, by working, voting and paying our taxes like good citizens of the Romanian state – really cares about our fate.
It’s just that, as I was saying, in Romania everything happens in a permanent Potemkin village. A deadly one through the mortal nothingness it hides behind the political statements and fighting present at any level, of course, including within the country’s hospitals hit by disaster.
A year ago, Narcis Copca, director of the St. Mary Hospital in Bucharest, the medical establishment which includes the Lung Transplant Centre, started a veritable life and death war (the death part did not concern him back then, just as it does not concern M.D. Narcis Copca today either, just as it does not concern any of the former or current Health Ministers) with Vlad Voiculescu, Health Minister at the time.
The reason? Painfully and unbelievably banal: the politicisation of any Romanian’s chance for life, through the politicisation of the country’s healthcare system.
Back then, Minister Voiculescu claimed, contrary to Narcis Copca’s statements and personal outrage, that the Lung Transplant Centre, so highly praised by certain political forces hostile to the technocratic minister and so eagerly awaited by Romanians who are at the border between life and death, was not accredited and, consequently, cannot start to function for more than obvious reasons.
And one of these reasons that Voiculescu invoked, in fact the essential reason why the Lung Transplant Centre could not immediately start its activity, as proven now too, a year later, was that there are no medical doctors specialised in line with European standards and norms in the field of this kind of transplant, no medical doctors with which to form the medical team prepared to really make this centre exist and to render it really operational.
In this absurd war, literally a deadly war for the patients, Narcis Copca was joined by none other than Gabriela Vranceanu Firea, the current Mayor of Bucharest. Both managers – one a hospital manager, the other the manager of a country’s capital city – started hurling serious accusations and insinuations at Vlad Voiculescu, alleging that political and financial interests were prompting the minister to block the breathing of Romanians placed on lung transplant lists.
However, the strange part is that the Bucharest City Hall has under its control, jointly with the Health Ministry, the management of investments in hospitals.
More precisely, there are hospitals that are subordinated completely to the City Hall. Namely, they are at the whim and political calculations of the person who sits at the City Hall’s helm and whose only speciality seems to be deadly PR. It does not matter how many people are dying and why. People are offered an image (often depicting static nature), while the leaders receive its concrete benefits.
Thus, Bucharest Mayor Firea is not and cannot be foreign to the criminal case related to the erroneous or fraudulent channelling of funds to the Lung Transplant Centre, which he accused Minister Voiculescu of, as part of the serious accusations levelled against him in this scandal. If this case is truly real.
And since in this country trouble comes in threes and never from a single direction, on March 18 this year, a year since those unfortunate moments – a terrible, terrifying year for terminal lung patients – the Health Ministry announced that the important Vienna-based AKH Clinic has unilaterally cancelled the contract on whose basis it was carrying out lung transplants for Romanian patients.
The official reason for the decision, the one offered to the press by incumbent Health Minister Florin Bodog, is allegedly the fact that… there are no longer sufficient available beds in the clinic.
Minister Bodog, despite being member of a political Government elected through unanimous popular vote (as Mr Dragnea likes to say every time he has the chance), has reached, more or less officially, the same conclusion that his technocratic counterpart Vlad Voiculescu had reached. Namely, that the Lung Transplant Clinic from the St. Mary’s Hospital is not yet ready and not yet endowed at required European standards to start functioning.
However, paradoxically and bizarrely, the brief and maddening piece of news thrown by the incumbent minister like a pillow on the face of the Romanians who can barely catch their breath comes to completely contradict the answer offered by the coordinators of Eurotransplant, the body that manages transplants at European level, who say they do not know anything about this situation and that, so far, no Romanian official has asked for their help!!!
“So far, we haven’t been contacted by the new Health Minister. We haven’t been officially contacted in the past month. So, we are waiting to be contacted by Romanian authorities because we want to correct this imbalance that still exists,” M.D. Dirk van Raedmonck, member of Eurotransplant’s leadership, stated.
And for the disaster to be complete and the madness to reach unimaginable levels, as happens every time in such situations and scandals that have occurred throughout time in the field of healthcare – whether it was the constant crisis of cytostatic drugs, whether we experienced moments of horror and the terror of hospital infections with the young victims of the Colectiv fire, whether we had to deal with infants mowed down mysteriously by a gastric bacteria etc. etc. – certain sources claim that the reason behind the Austrians’ unilateral cancellation was caused by the monstrous and unspeakable attitude that Romanian authorities adopted when a professor doctor from AKH announced he wanted to come and visit and oversee St. Mary Hospital’s Lung Transplant Centre, and M.D. Narcis Copca bluntly sent the eminent professor away, stating that there is an elections period in Romania and the Austrians’ visit can be postponed until afterward! And that, at any rate, the Transplant Centre is fine and Romanians know what they have to do, without other people’s opinions and reports.
POLITICAL WAR CONTINUES. PATIENTS BEING SACRIFICED.
Mayor Firea shouts at ex-Minister Vlad Voiculescu: “The pot is calling the kettle black.”
Vlad Voiculescu sues the mayor and M.D. Narcis Copca in order to have the satisfaction of seeing the two fail and to recover his honour.
Incumbent Health Minister Florin Bodog (photo) answers the journalists’ questions in a calm and detached manner, speaking like a politician and officiating the party line.
The National Transplant Agency abstains from making statements.
The Lung Transplant Centre remains “a unit of excellency” on paper, before the press and the video cameras. In reality, the Lung Transplant Centre remains an empty medical space, unusable and useless for the dozens and hundreds of Romanians who can barely breathe and who are watching with their last strength the never-ending and infernal political war that will soon transform some of us into terminal patients and others into memories.
In conclusion, I would have a single question for all those who are sent – by the Romanians suffering from terminal lung disease too! – in the comfortable and extremely profitable offices they occupy in the country’s political hierarchy, offices from which they can take the liberty, in an exclusivist and rapid manner, to benefit from the best medical services anywhere in the world:
If your lungs or your children’s lungs were to stop working, would the statements made and political wars carried out by any of you help you breathe better?