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Meeting of Hope and Life

The “Vision of Hope” Association and its partners from all over Greece have renewed their commitment to increase the number of volunteer bone marrow donors in Greece. At the same time the association is taking stock of its plans and setting new goals.

Guests at a ‘Meeting of Hope and Life’ workshop on Tuesday May 30, 2017 at the N.J.V. Hotel. Athens Plaza, were welcomed by UNESCO's Goodwill Ambassador and President of the Association, Mrs Marianna V. Vardinoyannis.

Mrs Vardinoyannis was very happy to see all those taking part in the seminar, which will now become an annual event. “You don’t just support our work with dedication and love, you enrich it with your knowledge and experience, and very often, you are the ones who are implementing it,” she said.

“For me, you are not just our friends in this fight, you are the “Vision of Hope’s” family as we all struggle to achieve our goal of not losing a life when it can be saved. All of Greece is here today and that’s making me quite nervous…”

Referring to the work of the Association, Mrs Vardinoyannis pointed out that the Volunteer Bone Marrow Donor Bank, which the Association founded three years ago, has 50,000 registered volunteer donors, new people from all over the country and the attendees broke into applause!

"The number is constantly rising. Each of the donors has in his or her heart the desire to be a donor who will one day save a life. How many have received this blessing? So far, between our volunteer donors, 10 compatible donors have been found. 10 lives saved! So I want to thank you all, with all my heart!"

Every co-operating center, organization, club and volunteer received praise for their contribution to the work of the Association. Five symbolic awards were presented: the first volunteer donor, Sakis Rouvas; Association allies, Nikos Daskalantonakis the Grecotel Group; the center with the most registered volunteer donors, Rodávgi of Rhodes with 6.500 donors, was represented by Dr Dina Macheridis;

the most ‘distant’ center, Mrs Fotini Girkoglou representing the Greek Orestiada of Evros; volunteers, Medical School students and

Kostas Papardellas, a father of a rehabilitated child, representing all the parents who are joining the "Vision of Hope’s" fight.

Scientific Director Dr Stelios Grafakos spoke about the work of the Volunteer Bone Marrow Donor Bank Volunteer Bank, while the Association’s Vice President, and Director of the Agia Sophia Children’s Hospital, Manolis Papasavvas, outlined the Association’s new goals for the immediate future.

The “Vision of Hope’s” General Secretary, Ino Konstantopoulou coordinated the seminar.

Many supporters spoke of their ties with the “Vision of Hope” but the speech that literally shocked the attendees was from Maria Vlachou, mother of little Anna, who had to wait for 10 years to find a compatible donor and carry out the transplant that gave her a second chance in life.

"I stayed at the hospital for 10 years,” she said. “Ten years impregnated with pain, days when there was no light and my senses did not work. There are no smells, flavors, images, no sounds. Only one hand desperately looking to pull Anna out of the darkness and relieve her of the misery.

“Today I am really here to tell you that the effort must never end. Never stop. The number of volunteer bone marrow donors in the world bank may seem a lot it is never enough. We waited ten years to hear that a compatible donor for Anna has been found. When there are no roads, you make them. People, you know, do not move easily; they are not ‘easily convinced’, and, in order for a prospective donor to become a registered bone marrow donor volunteer, you have to transform his or her mental habits, for life. This requires repeated actions, continuous contacts, continuous information and continuous effort. Your effort, your wok is invaluable, because you are opening the paths for life by opening hearts, shaping people, transforming the world ..."

The event was attended by Dr Antonios Avgerinos - President of the Hellenic Red Cross; Yiannis Boletis - Vice President of the National Organization of Transplantation; Motor Oil spokesman Dimitris Kanellopoulos; Kyriakos Mitsakos-Barbayiannis - President of the REA Maternity Hospital; Dora Psalopoulou Dimopoulou Dean of the University of Athens; Voula Kozompoli - President of the Association of Greek Olympians; Panagiotis Panagiotidis - President of the Hellenic Haematological Society; Iliana Flikkanopoulou - Expo TNT;Irene Ephremidou - Playmobil Representative; Grigoris Gerakarakos - President of the Panhellenic Federation of Police Officers, and others. They all represented their organizations which collaborate with the Association.

Aegean Airlines supported the meeting and spring flowers were provided by the Drizos Florist.