„MY PAEDIATRICIAN” MAGAZINE, SPRING 2007
MOTHER BEFORE EVERYTHING ELSE
Dejana Krajačić is a five year old girl from Apatin who got endocarditis (a
heavy infection of the aortal valves). Everything in this story is about how
some strange circumstances can lead to happiness even in the gravest misfortune.
The happiness came with Princess Katherine Karadjordjevic, who saw Dejana during
her visit to the Children’s Hospital in Tirsova, on Christmas. Having found out
the condition that the girl was in, she selflessly took action. Princess
Katherine invited her friend Prof. Dr. Afksendios Kalangos, who managed to
obtain the donored tissue through his organization „A heart for All“. On
Epiphany, 19 January, the Professor came to Belgrade, operated on Dejana, who
has since successfully recovered and is now joyfully playing with her friends.
This was one of the reasons we went to The Royal Palace and spoke to this
wonderful woman about her humanitarian work.
The Lifeline Humanitarian Organization was founded in 1993 in London by
Princess Katherine Karadjordjevic, with the objective to provide help to all
those who needed it, regardless of religion or ethnic origin. During the past
years, her great effort and endeavour has resulted in providing massive
quantities of humanitarian aid. In Belgrade, in the beginning of August 2001 she
founded the Foundation of HRH Princess Katherine, with the task to continue and
expand the good tradition of humanitarian activities. On 27 January this year,
Princess Katherine received the special St. Sava award for humanitarian work and
endeavour. The award has certainly come to the right place.
HOW ARE YOUR HUMANITARIAN PROGRAMS DEVELOPED AND REALIZED?
Our Foundation has offices in New York, Chicago, Toronto, London, Athens and
Belgrade. The Foundation unifies all existing humanitarian activities in the
country and aims at helping everybody, in coordination with the NGOs – children
above all, the elderly, healthcare and social care institutions, the most
vulnerable categories of the population. Currently we are working on several
projects. One is the making of the Bone Marrow Bank. There are more and more
children who are ill with cancer. In order for the treatment to be successful,
among other things that are needed is the Bone Marrow Bank. I have made contacts
with friends in the UK, and I sincerely hope that our country will have such a
Bank. The other project is about improving our heart surgery conditions for
children. It is often necessary to perform a heart operation outside the
country, mostly because of the lack of adequate equipment, and not because our
doctors lack the talent. Our doctors are very talented and with a bit more
training to apply the latest techniques, there would be less need for the
children to go abroad to have their operations. My idea is to invest the money
so that our doctors can have their training abroad and so that they can visit
foreign medical centres, in order to save more lives of children in this
country. Our work is very solid. Our people have a lot of promises, without
solid results. That is why we do whatever we promise. Or, we speak little but we
do a lot. For me, it is a great privilege that I can help the people in our
country through my husband. And when they thank me, I feel the need to thank
them for giving me the opportunity to help them. My wish to help people is so
great, that my husband often gets angry with me, saying: “You can not help
people while they are sleeping”. And I know that, but when it is night time
here, it is day time in California and in Chicago, and people are working there,
so I want to be awake to finish every part of the job.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE THE INSTITUTIONS THAT NEED HELP?
There is the Royal Medical Board that evaluates which institutions need help
more urgently than others. This Board has specialised doctors in many areas:
paediatricians, oncologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists and others. All the
hospitals in Serbia and not just in Belgrade, are sending us a report about the
conditions in their hospitals: how many doctors they have and of what
specialties, which kind of equipment they have, and what they can do. On the
basis of this, the Board analyses reports and reaches a decision about providing
help. We try to provide help evenly to everyone, but the help is needed by all.
The hospitals know that we are very active, so they do not restrain themselves
from asking for help, and we then try to meet their requests as much as
possible. I deliver aid based on the decisions of the Royal Medical Board and my
WHAT IS THE NICEST THING IN THIS BUSINESS FOR YOU?
The results! Seeing Dejana alive. Seeing somebody whose life you have saved,
even though you are not a doctor. That is a blessing. It can not be bought. It
can be only felt. Whole-heartedly.
DO YOU FEEL THAT HELPING OTHERS IS A PRIVILEGE?
It is a great privilege. Emotions are on the move when I see how much faith
and trust people have in me. I must admit that I am surprised. I have been doing
this job for over 15 years. I took the convoys many times to Bosnia, we have
been living in Serbia for almost six years, and it is amazing how much people
have started to trust me in such a short time. I am very happy and grateful for
that. I want the people to know that they are not alone, that they can count on
us, that we do not make promises, but rather we work. We are only interested in
human life and it is our responsibility. Human life, living and the general good
of the people – that is most important for me and my husband. We also want young
people to be educated, to have opportunities in life, and that is why my husband
has the Foundation for Education and Culture. This Foundation, among other
things, provides scholarships, and has opened a Career Centre. People in our
country are not demanding. All they want is a normal life.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A SITUATION THAT YOU CAN’T HELP SOMEBODY?
I never give up. I believe in God and in miracles. I believe in the strength
that God gives me to help others. When you want to do good things, God gives you
the strength to feel good. I think that people without energy are in fact those
who are not trying to help. The energy does not come first. First comes the aid.
First one gives and does not take. And when you give, you do not expect anything
in return, because if you give something from the bottom of your heart, you will
be rewarded, and that should be enough. If you do something good and expect
something in return, then it is not sincere and it is better to do nothing at
all, because in this dishonest way you can make more damage than good. The
opportunity to give help is a gift of God, and people should not abuse it. I am
sure that there is not a single person in the world who can not help. Some
things can not be paid with money. A smile does not cost anything. A few kind
words to a patient do not cost anything. There are so many things that can not
be paid with money, but that mean so much to the other person. People who say –
I wish I could help, but I do not know how to do it, are not sincere, because,
if they looked around they could see that the world needs them. Maybe they are
not ready to assume that kind of responsibility. People should not be living in
an illusion; they have to be realistic, honest, caring, and loving. Nobody
should forget that we have come to this world to spend a very limited time here,
so every life is a mission. We must not waste time. People should be asking how
they can help others, every day, and God will help them, because we are his
hands on the Earth. People are waiting to be happy, and at the same time, they
are not doing anything good. You can not be happy if you do not make others
happy. You can not be happy if you just think about yourself for the whole day.
Some people become their own worst enemies.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO OUR READERS?
People must be aware that their behaviour is reflected on their children. All
parents must remember that the next generation of our people is in their hands.
What our country will look like in the next 10 or 20 years depends mainly on the
parents. Observe the reactions of your children, their behaviour, and invest in
them. Teach them to value their life and the lives of others, to respect people
who do good deeds, to be full of self-esteem, to respect their parents and
grandparents, and to love them. Enjoy life with your children.
More information about the HRH Princess Katherine Foundation can be found at
the internet site: www.lifeline.org
A MOTHER IS JUST A MOTHER
I feel like a mother in our country. I am aware that, when a child is in the
hospital, every minute is important. When a child goes to the hospital, every
mother must feel safe that the child will be provided with the proper medicines,
that there is the needed equipment, that her child is surrounded by the best
doctors, because a mother is just a mother, and she only wants her child to be
well. And I, as every mother, must find a way to help our children.
We should be working more on preventive medicine. We spend a lot of money on
the consequence rather than the cause, and many illnesses could be prevented if
they are acted on sooner. Preventive medicine has an advantage, and that is that
the consequences and the risks of illnesses would be much smaller. My idea is to
create mobile teams who would visit primary schools and check the children’s
eyesight, hearing, and speech. There are many ideas, but there is not so much
time. Unfortunately, my day only lasts 24 hours, and I would need many more
GRANDMOTHERS AND GRANDFATHERS
I am very attached to elderly people. Grandmothers and grandfathers are very
important in the growing up of children. They are sincere and carry within their
beings, our tradition and culture, which they must pass on to younger
generations. Children should spend as much time as possible with their
grandmothers and grandfathers, especially when parents are preoccupied with
work. The children can learn a lot from their grandparents, as much as they can
learn from their parents, if not more. Grandmothers and grandfathers have more
time, love, knowledge and patience.
MOJ PEDIJATAR, proleće 2007