The first attempts at organ transplantation in Romania date back to the beginning of the twentieth century and are due to Dr. Florescu who, working in the experimental surgery laboratory of the Faculty of Medicine in Bucharest, performed several experimental kidney transplants. The operations were not successful, and Dr. Florescu considered that this was due to a poor implantation angle of the blood vessels (the kidneys eventually became necrotic), which is why he tried different places in the body for transplant in the hope that he would find the right angle. This did not happen, of course, and the experiments were abandoned.
In 1958 Prof. Dr. Agrippa Ionescu performed the first skin transplant in an organized hospital setting, and in 1962 the first corneal transplant was performed. In the second half of the last century, Sergiu Duca in Cluj-Napoca and Vladimir Fluture in Timisoara and Dumitru Popescu-Falticeni together with Emil Papahagi at the Floreasca Emergency Hospital in Bucharest, performed an experimental liver transplant.
The first successful transplant of a solid organ from Romania in humans was the one performed by Professor Eugeniu Proca, in February 1980 at Fundeni Hospital, with kidneys from the living donor (the mother of the recipient). This transplant was soon followed by a kidney transplant from a deceased donor, performed in Timisoara by a team led by Prof. Dr. Petru Dragan. Until December 1989, only a small number of kidney transplants were performed.
In 1992, the foundations of the first modern kidney transplant program in Romania were laid, by Prof. Dr. Mihai Lucan, at the Urology Clinic of the Cluj-Napoca County Hospital (later became the Clinical Institute of Urology and Renal Transplant Cluj-Napoca).
Starting with 1995, the efforts to organize a national transplant network are intensified, carried out in several stages:
– establishing the protocol for diagnosing and declaring brain death (Prof. Dr. Dan Tulbure)
– establishing the conditions for taking the organs from the deceased donor from a medico-legal point of view (Prof. Dr. Vladimir Belis)
– media campaign to explain brain death and to promote organ donation
– performing the first multiorgan sampling (1997); in February a kidney was taken from a brain-dead donor in the General Surgery Clinic of Fundeni Hospital (surgical team Irinel Popescu, Ioanel Sinescu, Vladislav Brasoveanu, Radu Soare, anesthetist Dan Tulbure), and in June a liver sample and kidneys at the Floreasca Emergency Hospital (the surgical team was coordinated by Prof. Dr. Irinel Popescu, and the anesthetic team by Dr. Ioana Grintescu). An important role later belonged to the Targu-Mures County Hospital, where Prof. Dr. Radu Deac and Dr. Pia Moldovan managed to maintain in physiological conditions several donors in brain death, and their families agreed to the donation.
– begins the training of transplant coordinators, the first of whom is Dr. Victor Zota, the current Director of the National Transplant Agency. The rules for the distribution of bodies at national level and for the exchange of bodies with other European countries with which cooperation agreements are signed are established.
In 1997 the professional association “ROMTRANSPLANT” was founded, which will play an important role, both scientifically and organizationally, in the development of the Romanian transplant. The 5 national congresses, with international participation, of this association (1998: Cluj-Napoca – president Prof. Dr. Mihai Lucan; 2000: Bucharest – president Prof. Dr. Irinel Popescu; 2002: Targu-Mures – president Prof. Dr. Radu Deac; 2004: Constanta-Eforie Nord – president Prof. Dr. Vasile Sarbu and 2006: Cluj-Napoca – president Prof. Dr. Mihai Lucan) represented moments of reference from all points of view.
The president of Romtransplant is, from 1997 until now, Prof. Dr. Irinel Popescu, and the general secretary, Prof. Dr. Mihai Voiculescu. In 1997, the first liver transplant was performed by Prof. Dr. Irinel Popescu at Fundeni Hospital, which was not followed, however, by the patient’s survival. From the same year, the management of the kidney transplant program at Fundeni Hospital is taken over by Prof. Dr. Ioanel Sinescu, after the retirement of Professor Eugeniu Proca. In 1999, the first heart transplant was performed by Dr. Serban Bradisteanu at the Floreasca Emergency Clinical Hospital, followed shortly by the second, performed at the Cardiac Surgery Center within the Targu-Mures County Hospital by Prof. Dr. Radu Deac.
It is worth mentioning, especially, the congress from 2000 (Bucharest – Intercontinental Hotel) when, at the opening of the congress, His Beatitude Theoctist, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, presented an extremely important speech, in which, on the one hand, he expressed his agreement with the BOR for the collection of organs from the deceased in brain death, and on the other hand he supported organ donation, as a defining gesture for Christians.
Also since 1999, Romania has a representative in the Transplant Commission of the Council of Europe (Prof. Dr. Irinel Popescu), which allows the immediate adoption of European provisions on transplantation and will lead, finally, to the adoption of a new transplant law, adapted to the requirements. in 2006.
In April 2000, the first liver transplant was performed with the survival of the patient by Prof. Dr. Irinel Popescu at Fundeni Hospital, and in October 2000, the first liver transplant from a living donor, by the same team (mother-to-daughter transplant) .
In 2001, Prof. Dr. Margit Serban performed in the university center of Timisoara the first bone marrow transplant, followed, shortly, by the team of Fundeni Hospital (Prof. Dr. Dan Colita, Prof. Dr. Constantin Arion).
In 2003 the team from Constanta County Hospital (Prof. Dr. Vasile Sarbu, Dr. Simona Dima) performs the first autotransplant of pancreatic islands, in 2004 at the Institute of Urology and Transplant Cluj-Napoca Prof. Dr. Mihai Lucan performs the first combined transplant of kidneys and pancreas, and in 2005 at the Fundeni Clinical Institute (Prof. Dr. Irinel Popescu, Dr. Simona Dima) the first allotransplantation of pancreatic islets is performed on a patient with cirrhosis and diabetes, who underwent a combined liver and islet transplant. pancreatic. The stem cell transplant was performed for the first time in 2004 for a myocardial disease (Prof. Dr. Stefan Dragulescu, Prof. Dr. Virgil Paunescu – at the Institute of Cardiology in Timisoara), and in 2005 for a liver disease (Prof. Dr. Irinel Popescu, Dr. Simona Dima – at the Fundeni Clinical Institute). During all this time, both the legislation and the organizational framework have seen permanent improvements.
In 1998, the first modern transplant law in Romania was introduced – Law no. 2/1998 “on the collection and transplantation of human tissues and organs” which specified all the conditions for the collection and transplantation of organs and tissues. It has now been replaced by Title VI “Carrying out the collection and transplantation of organs, tissues and cells of human origin for therapeutic purposes” from Law 95/2006 “on health care reform” in which there is, in addition, a detailed chapter on cell and tissue transplantation, and organ transplant regulations are updated. The alignment with the European legislation is also the result of the presence of a representative of Romania (Prof. Dr. Irinel Popescu) in the Organ and Tissue Transplant Commission of the Council of Europe.
In 2004, Law no. 588, of the establishment of the National Transplant Agency, and Dr. Victor Zota is appointed Executive Director of the Agency, which is installed in the current headquarters and staffed. Prof. Dr. Irinel Popescu becomes president of the Scientific Council of the Agency.
The Scientific Council consists of 33 members, outstanding personalities of Romanian medicine, its composition being established by the Order of the Minister of Health no. 183/2005 and subsequently completed with the Order of the Minister of Health no. 814/2005.
Starting with 2005, in Romania it is celebrated, following the European model, the National Transplant Day, during April.
Since 2006, a new law on organ and tissue transplantation (Title VI of Law 95/2006) has been in force, updated and completed, especially in the part regarding cells and tissues.
As a result of the transplant activity, currently in Romania over 1000 kidney transplants have been performed (in the university centers of Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Iasi, Constanta and Oradea), over 100 liver transplants in the Fundeni Clinical Institute, over 50 bone marrow transplants, over 30 heart transplants, etc. The achievements in the field of transplantation received an important recognition at national level in 2000, when the President of Romania Emil Constantinescu awarded high distinctions of Romania to the following: Prof. Dr. Eugen Proca, Prof. Dr. Irinel Popescu, Dr. Serban Bradisteanu, Prof. Dr. Radu Deac, Prof. Dr. Mihai Lucan, Prof. Dr. Ioanel Sinescu, Prof. Dr. Dan Tulbure, Prof. Dr. Petru Dragan and Prof. Dr. Vladimir Belis.