News / Announcements

10.10.2018 / Announcements


The President of the Onassis Foundation, Dr Anthony Papadimitriou, visited His Excellency the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos, in the Presidential Palace on Tuesday 9 September to update him on the new national initiative of the Onassis Foundation, the creation of the Onassis National Transplant Center. Dr Papadimitriou was accompanied by the Onassis Foundation's Director of Culture, Mrs Afroditi Panagiotakou, and Onassis Foundation Board members and executives.  

In light of the vote taken to adopt the draft law on the creation of the Onassis National Transplant Center on Thursday 27/9 by the Hellenic Parliament, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos, a consistent and valuable ally of transplant-related projects, received Onassis Foundation Board members and executives in the Presidential Palace for a briefing on this major Health initiative.  

Welcoming the representatives of the Onassis Foundation and addressing Dr Anthony Papadimitriou, the President of the Hellenic Republic said: Mr Papadimitriou, I thank you from the heart and congratulate you on the Onassis Foundation's new major gift to the nation, the Onassis National Transplant Center, the previous donation being the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center. The creation of the Onassis National Transplant Center covers a major gap in the Greek Health System. But it also comes to the aid—in a hands-on, impressive way—of the individual: the long-suffering men and women who will now be spared the expense, trials, tribulations and painful uncertainty of having to travel abroad for their medical procedures. And there is one more thing I should like to note in relation to the creation of the Onassis National Transplant Center: that I am certain it will usher in a different mindset here in Greece in relation to organ donations. Because that is an area in which we still have a good deal of ground to make up. A new and different mindset which should teach us that donating our organs is one way in which we can truly give to our fellow Man. It is the ultimate form of Love and Solidarity. And I will say something that has nothing to do with religion and is relevant to everyone, whether they believe or not: donating organs helps you progress from love one another to the still more important maxim of love thy neighbour as thyself. As I said, it does not matter whether you believe or not; it's a humanistic principle which underscores the need—in this modern age of ours, especially—for solidarity with every society around the World. Finally, I have to say that the Onassis Foundation's new donation continues our Greek tradition of Great Benefactors of the Nation in the best possible way. And we all know how very significant the assistance of those Benefactors has been to the Modern Greek State, especially in times of crisis. Now we see the same behaviour being repeated, and I congratulate you on it. Because this is a gift to our State, and above all else to our People. And I thank you for it once again.

The President of the Onassis Foundation then addressed the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos, saying: Your Excellency, Mr President, it is a great honour to be received here today in the Presidential Palace by the Head of the Greek State in the light of the major new initiative to be undertaken by the Onassis Foundation. The project consists of a complete new hospital which includes the National Transplant Center, where transplantations of all solid organs will take place. And, of course, as you rightly noted, the new facility will also precipitate a change in our mindset in relation to organ transplants. The hospital will contain a cutting-edge Paediatric Cardiac and Heart Surgery Center (The Onassis Children's Center), too, which will cater for the needs of children from all over Greece and beyond who, unfortunately, are in need of the services it will provide. The project also includes updating the equipment and facilities of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, a wide-ranging education and scholarship programme for doctors, nurses and other staff, and research programmes run in association with the Athens University Medical School, the Academy of Athens, and equivalent institutions abroad. It is a mature project, in so far as the studies have already been approved, which means we can move on to the implementation stage very quickly. And I should like to stress at this point, if I may Mr President—and I think this is something that moves you personally—that the new hospital will be fully integrated into the Greek public health system. It will be accessible to everyone, insured or not, and will thus cater for the needs of the entire Greek people.  

The Onassis National Transplant Center is expected to serve as a catalyst which will energize the transplant sector in Greece. Its active presence will lead to the creation of a nationwide network coordinated by the National Transplant Organization and hence to an increase both in the number of transplants performed and in their effectiveness. This will lay the foundations for the more effective management of our transplant needs in the future. Another important aspect of the new hospital is that it will include the first autonomous transplant unit in Greece exclusively for children, the Onassis Children’s Center, which will also provide high-level paediatric heart surgery services.

The meeting at an end, the President of the Onassis Foundation, Dr Anthony Papadimitriou, made the following statement to the representatives of the Press as he was leaving the Presidential Palace: We visited the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos, in order to brief him on the Onassis Foundation's major new donation in the sphere of Health, which includes the upcoming creation of the Onassis National Transplant Center and the new Paediatric Cardiac and Heart Surgery Center, but also the total refitting of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in terms of equipment. It is a work of national importance, and it is a source of great joy as well as an honour for us that the President of the Republic has been so supportive of this initiative from the start. Following the almost unanimous vote to adopt the draft law by the plenary of the Hellenic Parliament and its promulgation by the President of the Republic, the countdown to the creation of a new hospital within the Greek public health service has begun. We expect it to make the dream of access to high-quality, specialized health services in the sphere of transplants and beyond a reality for patients, insured and uninsured alike and children in particular. We will be in a position to present more details in the very near future. We have a slogan at the Onassis Foundation to mark this day: 'Health for all!'.

The new hospital is expected to be ready to be handed over and brought into operation 3 or 4 years after the start of the implementation phase. Further announcements with additional details about the Onassis National Transplant Center will follow shortly from the Onassis Foundation.  

Note to the editor

The Onassis Foundation was created in 1975 in line with instructions left by Aristotle Onassis in his will. Its goal: to support Greek society in the crucial areas of health, education and culture. The Foundation's efforts and activities have been underpinned from the start by a commitment to ensuring that as many of our fellow human beings as possible enjoy access to these social goods—goods that are critical to our well-being and cohesion as a society. Its ultimate goal is to release the potential of Greek society for a better and more optimistic future for Greece.  

In the area of Health in particular, the offerings of the Onassis Foundation could have peaked with the creation of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center and its donation to Greek society, but this was neither the beginning nor the end of its contributions. From the full refit of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center at the Andreas Syngros hospital to the support it provides to institutions and bodies such as the Pharmacology Laboratory of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Hellenic Society for the Protection and Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (SOS CHILDREN) and the ELPIDA Association of Friends of Children with Cancer; from the awarding of dozens of scholarships to medical and nursing personnel to its numerous activities in Special Education and educational programs designed to raise awareness of autism, the Onassis Foundation's activities in Health have always had the same point of reference: people. As might have been expected, the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center would go on to dramatically change the face of cardiology and heart surgery in Greece, stopping the flow of patients travelling abroad for treatment by making it possible for them to receive treatment without leaving their home country. The Onassis National Transplant Center, the Onassis Foundation's grand new donation to Greek society, continues its work in the field of Health. A quarter of a century on from the creation of the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, this new nationally significant initiative will change the face of medicine in Greece.

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