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National and Kapodistrian University of Athens: a great ally for "The Vision of Hope" Association

Monday, April 10, 2017 was a very important day for the Vision of Hope Association. In its struggle to increase the number of volunteer bone marrow donors, it found a great ally in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

At the suggestion of the Dean of the University Professor Athanasios Meletios Dimopoulos, the university decided to collaborate with the “Vision of Hope” Association and an agreement was signed this morning at the Children's Oncology Unit by the University’s Rector and the President of the “Vision of Hope” Association, and the Association of Friends of Children with Cancer “ELPIDA”, Marianna V. Vardinoyannis.

Through the agreement the university will support the Association’s Volunteer Bone Marrow Donor Bank by telling its students about the association and helping in the organization of scientific and informative events and in the registration of young volunteer donors. Student groups will be able to volunteer at the Bank's events, offer voluntary work at the Bank's office, distribute informative material and receive oral swab specimens for the standardization of volunteer donors. In addition, the university will assist the Association in its next steps on a scientific level.

Mrs Vardinoyannis welcomed the Rector of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Professor Athanasios Meletios Dimopoulos to the Oncology Unit.

"This is a very important day for the Vision of Hope and for the entire “ELPIDA” family as a great ally, the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, is formally included among our cooperating bodies. It’s an emotional moment and a great honour to welcome the largest and oldest university in our country as the first higher education institution to open the way to our cooperation with other big universities all over Greece.

“Rector, I would like to thank you personally, since you have been very sensitive to our Association, and the University management who advocated that this cooperation become a reality. It is a partnership based on our common visions and the values we share”.

Mrs Vardinoyannis touched on an award made by the university to “ELPIDA’s” work, which underlined her pride in being Greek, a Greek full of hope for the future and for the present young generation.

“We are grateful to you, and to the University of Athens, as with this partnership, you bring us thousands of new potential allies in your students as well as your teaching and management staff. I would like to thank you warmly for your uncompromising support in every step. I would also like to thank your wife, our dear friend Dora, who is a new member of the Board of Directors of the “ELPIDA” Association and is already been helping with many important projects.

“I wish with all my heart that today is the starting point for a great real collaboration."

In recognition of the significant contribution made by Professor Athanasios Meletios Dimopoulos to Vision of Hope he was awarded the Association’s honorary plaque.

Mr Dimopoulos thanked Mrs Vardinoyannis for her warm reception and honour, adding that, thanks to “ELPIDA’s” efforts, the work of Professor Stelios Grafakos, former director of the Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit and the scientific Group of partners and nurses at the Oncology Hospital, the treatment of childhood cancer, which was at zero in 1990, has now surpassed, at hospital and infrastructure level, the treatment of solid tumors and hematological malignancies in adults.

He announced that at the forthcoming award ceremony of the modern benefactors of the University of Athens, the “ELPIDA” Association will be honoured.

In brief speeches, the Director of the Agia Sophia Children’s Hospital, Manolis Papasavvas, and the Scientific Director of the Bone Marrow Donor Volunteer Bank, Professor Stelios Grafakos, highlighted the tremendous importance of this collaboration.

They said the signing of the Pact marked the Vision of Hope’s Volunteer Bone Marrow Donor Bank’s move into the educational and student world. It invites members of the university community to join in the struggle for hope and life that the Association has been fighting for three years, asking them to become, not only volunteer donors, but also volunteers to spread their message.

It is worth noting that a large group of students from the University of Athens, university administrators and qualified doctors from the University of Therapeutics came to the Oncology Unit and became volunteers of bone marrow donors today. Several groups of students from various higher schools, as well as individual students, have already enrolled and are taking part in the Vision of Hope’s awareness sessions.

Guests at the signing ceremony included: President of the Medical School of the University of Athens, Professor Petros Sifakis, Professor of Oncology, Aris Bamyas, Associate Professor of Oncology, Stathis Kastritis, ELPIDA Board of Directors members Tzortzina Gytopoulou Ellina, Melina Daskalaki, Dora Dimopoulou Psaltopoulou, Aikaterini Metaxotou, Alina Minetta, Eleftheria Moraitaki Pikrou, Aphrodite Plakiotaki Doriti, Dina Pritsiveli, Eleni Samara Konstantakatou, Christina Tsatsaki, and Vicky Philippou, Secretary of the Vision of Hope Board of Directors Ino Konstantopoulou, and doctors from the Oncology Unit, Antonis Katatmis, Sophia Polychronopoulou and Dr. Vassiliki Kitra Roussou.

A few words about the "Vision of Hope" Association and its Volunteer Bone Marrow Donor Bank

This year marks five years since the founding of the Vision of Hope Association and three years since the inauguration of the Volunteer Bone Marrow Donor Bank.

Within this short time, the Association has made its mark not only in the field of institutions that benefit society but, above all, those in the scientific field! Even more important is the fact that during those three years more than 45,000 volunteer donors were registered including nine compatible donors who gave bone marrow transplants to nine of our fellow humans, justifying the association’s faith and great value.

At the same time, the Volunteer Bone Marrow Donor Bank’s Briefing and Registration groups have made more than 200 meetings with the public in different parts of our country in the last year to collect specimens. These events were organized in cooperation with 151 organizations supporting the Association while the number of clubs cooperating with the Association throughout Greece is 85.

The Bank’s campaign is led by “ELPIDA” ‘Messenger’ Sakis Rouvas, with the entire country embracing his efforts.

Every day, organizations, clubs, corporations, schools, banks, hospitals, our Olympic champions, sports clubs, security bodies and many others offer their support or request to become donors. Strong partnerships include the Red Cross and the Armed Forces.

At the same time, the Association is working on its second major project: a National Center for the Transplantation of Solid Organs which is, as yet, not established in Greece and the creation of a Center for Excellence for Specialized Research on Childhood Cancer.