CROWN PRINCESS COMES TO THE RESCUE OF LITTLE DEJANA
During this year’s traditional Christmas visits to children’s
hospitals and orphanages, HRH Crown Princess Katherine was deeply touched when
she saw a little girl named Dejana at the University Children Hospital in
Belgrade, and she was especially moved by the doctors’ assessment that Dejana
had no more than a week left to live. Princess Katherine was deeply moved by the
pain Dejana’s parents were going through.
Dejana got a heart infection which hit the aorta and
critically damaged the left heart valve. The disease was diagnosed in Sombor,
where Dejana was initially treated, and she was immediately transferred to the
University Children’s Hospital in Belgrade where she was treated with the
highest doses of antibiotics. The infection was spreading fast and the threat of
complications was increasing every minute.
The doctor’s board at the hospital came to the conclusion
that the only solution was an urgent surgical intervention where the damaged
blood valve would be replaced with a donor valve that could be provided from the
organ donor’s bank in Brussels. Unfortunately for Dejana, Serbia is not a member
of the European Union, and consequently could not yet use tissues and organs
from this bank.
HRH Crown Princess Katherine instantly came to the rescue and
a plan to call her good friend Dr. Kalangos, who is Director of Cardio Surgery
at the University Clinic in Geneva Switzerland, and who has been in Belgrade
before at her invitation to perform several very complex surgeries. She found
him in Los Angeles where he was operating on two children and Dr. Kalangos
promised he would come to help Dejana. He then spoke with Serbian cardio
surgeons Dr. Ilić, Dr. Hercog and Prof. Jovanović who explained the situation to
him. Soon after, Dr. Kalangos and his very close associate from the Foundation
“Heart for Two” Mr. Andreu, found the needed tissue.
Little Dejana’s condition was getting worse from hour to
hour. Prof. Ida Jovanovic and the team of cardio surgeons from the University
Children’s Hospital were in permanent contact with Dr. Kalangos, updating him on
Dejana’s condition, and the surgery was immediately planned for 22 January.
Shocked with the critical condition of Dejana’s and real
possibility that she would not live to that day, HRH Crown Princess Katherine
made a vital urgent call to appeal for an aircraft. This time she called a dear
friend who instantaneously sent one of his private aircrafts to bring Dr
Kalangos to Belgrade from Poland, where he was operating.
On 19 January at 7pm, Dr Kalangos arrived in Belgrade from
Poland on the private aircraft, with the new valve tissue. Everything was ready
for Dr Kalangos at the hospital for the emergency surgery. Dr. Slobodan Ilić,
Chief of Cardio Surgery at the University Children’s Hospital assisted Dr.
Kalangos with the very delicate surgery. During a four hour dramatic operation
Dr. Kalangos removed the infected tissue and successfully implanted the new
valve and a part of the aorta. The most difficult part of the surgery was the
implanting of coronary arteries because even the smallest damage could cause
immediate heart arrest and death.
Little Dejana’s heart started working normally two hours
after the beginning of surgery. For Dr Kalangos, that night was the fifth
sleepless night in the row, and the end of a week in which he operated in
Turkey, Poland, and Serbia.
Dr Kalangos left Belgrade with his team at 5 o’clock in the
morning back on the private aircraft, because he had a lecture to hold in the
town of Gdansk in Poland and two demo surgeries to perform for 200 Polish
Dejana’s health improved dramatically after the surgery and
five days later she was transferred out of intensive care to a regular ward. She
is still on antibiotics therapy which will last for another 6 weeks. An
emotional visit to Dejana in hospital by Crown Prince Alexander II and Crown
Princess Katherine took place on Monday, 23 January.
Their Royal Highnesses have closely followed Dejana’s
recovery and look forward to see her and her parents at The Royal palace.
Princess Katherine wishes to thank everyone who worked together as such a great
team to save little Dejana’s life