Story by Milica Radovic

In early 2013 a campaign was launched in order to provide the Neurosurgical Clinic of the Clinical Center of Serbia with a much needed surgical microscope. The campaign was a success, resulting in a donation of one microscope from Lifeline Canada, and another one that was afforded by the contribution of the B92 Foundation from Serbia.

“Prof Dr. Lukas Rasulic, member of the Royal Medical Board, and a neurosurgeon at the Clinic contacted Crown Princess Katherine and the Board seeking help for the Clinic. As a result, it was arranged that part of the funds collected by Lifeline Canada be used in providing the Clinic with the much needed microscope.” –it is stated from the Princess Katherine Foundation.

The Neurosurgical Clinic of the Clinical Centre of Serbia, previously a department of the First Surgical Clinic, was founded in 1951 as an independent organizational unit. More than 60 years later, with over 3000 operations per year, it has grown to be one of the biggest institutions of its kind in Europe. The Neurosurgical Clinic deals with some of the most complicated and delicate cases in medicine – It treats patients with various forms of brain and spinal cord tumors, aneurisms, vascular anomalies and other serious neurological ailments. It is important to note that this Clinic is home to the only children’s neurosurgical department in the country.

Sadly, the economic decay that was rampant in Serbia over the past few decades didn’t leave the medical field unaffected. Since there weren’t enough investments in medical equipment, it quickly became dated, which reflected negatively on the quality of patient care. The Neurosurgical Clinic was no exception from this occurrence. The doctors were left with no more than two surgical microscopes- one of which was a mechanical one (meaning it had to be manually adjusted every time the surgeon changed position). Considering the fact that almost 90% of all neurosurgeries today are carried out using the microscope, there was no denying how critical the situation was. With only one fully functional microscope, 5 Operating rooms, and a few thousand operations a year, times were tough for the Neurosurgical Clinic.

This urgent situation was met with a quick reaction from Lifeline Canada and The Princess Katherine Foundation. Through the generous donations from the people of good will, Lifeline was able to provide one 61.000 Euros worth Leica surgical microscope for the Clinic. Joined with the one it previously owned, and one that was subsequently donated, the Clinic is now in the possession of 3 fully functioning microscopes. This means the doctors are now able to perform surgeries efficiently, making sure patient care is up to the highest standards.

The importance of this donation can hardly be put into words. As Dr. Vladimir Bascarevic, vice-director of the Neurosurgical Clinic explains “Neurosurgery is highly dependent on the use of technology. Without the microscope, there is practically no neurosurgery. Some cases, such as cervical disc herniations, cannot even be operated on without the use of the surgical microscope”.

Aside from being necessary in almost all neurosurgical operations the Clinic conducts, the microscope is also an amazing educational tool. Seeing as most modern day surgical microscopes come with a built-in camera, operations can be recorded, which allows doctors to re-watch, analyze and discuss operations, as well as show them to students, assistants and residents. This allows aspiring young surgeons to learn from their more experienced colleagues and gain valuable knowledge.

There is no doubt that the donation was well received. Dr. Bascarevic explains: “We are beyond grateful for this donation. The problems we had before, when we were operating with only one microscope were unimaginable. The wait lists for operations were getting longer and longer, and we were seriously struggling to help every patient in time. Two years later those problems are gone – we are working in full capacity. We are more than satisfied with the microscope-it works full steam, from dusk until dawn-even on the weekends!”

Even though patients may never see the microscope, or even know of its existence (seeing as the microscope is used only during surgeries), this big, complicated device makes all the difference in their recovery. Because of this fact, it’s important to remember that when investing in medical technology, we are ultimately investing in people – in doctors who use this technology to help others, patients who triumph over illness, and students who expand and strengthen their knowledge, aspiring to be the future of medicine. That is why every donation counts and every contribution makes a difference; that is why being humane matters.