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The First Lifebank in Greece


A different type of bank is expected to open its doors in February in Greece; a bank for volunteer bone marrow donors. The aim of Lifebank is to provide a center for bone marrow donors and to reduce bone marrow waiting list which last year included 14 children in need of immediate transplant.
The president of the Association of Friends of Children with Cancer (ELPIDA), Marianna Vardinoyiannis announced Lifebank’s opening in presence of the Greek Minister of Health, Adonis Georgiadis. She called on all those in Greece to support the bank’s function.
The Greek Minister of Health described the bank’s operation as “a small miracle in such a difficult time. This bank will heal those patients in need of a transplant as well as the lack of trust in Greece,” said Georgiadis.
“We are absolutely certain that everyone will understand the necessity of this bank as well as the significance of the individual contributions of as many volunteers as possible. Finding a compatible donor requires thousands of samples, especially in a country like Greece which is not known for voluntary donations,” highlighted Vardinoyiannis. “This is because Greeks lack information and not sensitivity,” she continued.
Sakis Rouvas, the public face of the bank’s campaign, will invite people of between 18-45 years-of-age to donate bone marrow. According to Stelios Grafakos, Director of the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at Aghia Sophia Children’s Hospital, through the lifebank, finding suitable bone marrow will be easy and inexpensively for anyone who needs it. Until now, the cost of a compatible transplant from abroad ranged between 15,000-30,000 euros. It was an unbearable cost for both families and the Greek insurance system. Grafakos also stated that the procedure will be straight forward. Applicants fill in a registration form to become bone marrow donors and provide the bank with a small blood or saliva sample.
ELPIDA hopes to be able to recruit more than 50,000 donors within the next three years in order to make lifebank sustainable.

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