Archive for Micheal Gannon

Training placement begins for Albanian Physicists

DoctorsMedical physics and radiotherapy are vital areas of patient care, in particular for the treatment of cancer.

We are delighted Rodina Myrku, a physicist from the Department of Physics and Dr. Altin Jusufati from the Department of Radiotherapy of Mother Theresa University Hospital, Tirana are undergoing training placements at Galway University Hospital. This follows on from the visit of GUH physicist Wil Van Der Putten and Radiotherapist Dr. Maeve Pomeroy to MTUH in 2012. The placement consists of a 2 week placement in Galway University Hospital under the guidance of Wil and his colleagues. Our Albanian guests  also participate in the Annual Meeting of the Irish Association of Physics in Medicine, which will take place in Galway on February 22nd. This is the highlight event of the year for this profession.

We are very grateful to the management of GUH and to the the Departments of Physics and Radiotherapy for making this training possible. This placement is supported by Irish Aid.

Photo: Rodina Myrku, Mr Jack McCann and Dr Altin Jusufati at GUH, Galway. 

Audited Accounts now available to view

auditWe have now posted our audit for 2012 to our website. Mazars of Salthill completed this audit and we are very grateful for their long standing support.  All our supporters and the general public are welcome to view the accounts. Our greatest supporters are you the general public which supports all our work and Irish Aid which supports our 3 years medical collaboration with Mother Theresa University Hospital.

Irish Friends of Albania Financial_Statements_2012

In 2011 and 2012 we have seen a fall  of over 20% in income raised from fundraising. This is to be expected in the current recession. Due to the remarkable generosity of the public and the dedication of our volunteers we still raise over 50,000 Euro per year from the public.

Irish Aid is supporting us with c. 55,000 Euro per year for the period 2011 to 2013 and this funding enables us to carry out a targeted programme of support to Mother Theresa Hospital for the benefit of the patients and the personnel who care for them.

Click here to see it: Irish Friends of Albania Audit 2012 

Solar Equipment Secured for Albania

solar-panels-on-houseWe are delighted that we have put together our equipment for the next solar installation project. With the generous support of Electric Aid and of suppliers, we have secured all the equipment we need from Ireland. The rest we will source locally in Albania. The equipment, valued at over €15,000 has been transported to Albania thanks to the help of other charities which have projects underway in Albania.

Our volunteer team from Kerry and Kilkenny travel to Albania in May 2014 to complete this installation. The venue is the Kavaja Home for the Elderly in central Albania. Currently we are testing water filters to ensure that the water supply is clean enough to enable the system to work to its full potential. At full potential the system will supply free hot water for the 60 residents as long as the sun shines, which it does in the sunny Balkan state.

Newcastle Community funds water treatment for Albania

eileen-ward-265x300The community of Newcastle, Co.Down, led by Eileen Ward, has been supporting us for 10 years now, and over that time it has donated over €35,000 towards our work. Eileen has a network of collectors throughout the community who collect small change only. Every 3 months or so Eileen gathers this and send us the proceeds, usually in time for our next visit to Albania.

In May 2013 Eileen sent us the phenomenal sum of €3,600 collected over the previous months. We are using these funds to send a water treatment system to the Home for the Elderly in Kavaja, Central Albania. We visited this home in 2012 and met the 60 residents and the personnel there. The Home has a good water supply from its own well, but it is badly affected by sand. This makes it undrinkable and unsuitable for cooking. It also clogs the pipes and eventually destroys the heating and plumbing systems. Our volunteer construction team, led by Killarney man John Kehoe, found the solution to this in a water treatment system which will filter out all sand.

Thanks to the support of Eileen and her community we have now purchased the system and we will install it in the Home this month.  This is, we hope,  the first step for our volunteer construction team. We have launched our plans for a visit to install a large solar powered water heating system in the Home. This will meet the washing and cooking needs of the 60 elderly people of the Home. This is an ambitous project and will cost over €30,000 but we are optimistic we can secure the funds and support.

Our thanks to the residents and personnel of the Kavaja Home for the Elderly for their warm welcome to us.

Photograph 1 shows Ms Eileen Ward together with Mr Jack McCann, Michael Gannon and school children from Newcastle who help Eileen with her collection network. Eileen was honoured for her work at a community event in Newcastle in 2012

Photograph 2 shows the Kavaja Home for the Elderly, Central Albania

Micro-Surgery Training Laboratory for Albania


Microsurgery is surgery with the aid of an operating microscope. Microsurgeons can repair blood vessels, tranfer tissue from one part of the body to another in order to heal wounds, and reattach severed digits. Microsurgery requires quality equipment and years of training.

We are assisting Mother Theresa University Hospital to develop the first Micro-Surgery Training Laboratory in Albania
A room has been dedicated within the hospital for the facility. We now need to find the necessary equipment: 5 microscopes–suitable for training purposes at least, 5 benches, 5 chairs with adjustable heights, Lights, 5 sets of instruments and clamps.

We seek the support of equipment from: hospitals which may be replacing equipment and medical supply companies which may have display models or trade ins

We are also seeking micro surgeons to teach in the laboratory. This would require short trips of 3 or 4 days to Tirana. We also operate on patients in the hospital, using the two operating microscopes of the hospital, one of which we donated in 2009.

If you can help this project, which is invaluable to surgery in Albania, Kosova and the entire Balkan region, please cotact our chairman Mr Jack McCann. The region has many patients and many dedicated young surgeons who need our help.

Our thanks to those who have already responded positively to our requests and to Irish Aid which is part funding this dream which we aim to make a reality in 2013.

Mr Jack McCann 
Irish Friends of Albania
15 University Road, Galway

Mazars Galway Corporate Quiz raises funds for local charities

imagesOur auditors Mazars & Co. Ltd held their 3rd fund raising  Galway Corporate Table Quiz Challenge at the Menlo Park Hote on May 9th. Over 25 Galway busineses and organisations took part in a keenly contested event, deftly hosted by Mazars partner Paul Mee.

This event was held to find the brainiest company in Galway, while supporting the charities ‘Jigsaw’, and ‘Irish Friends of Albania’.

Well done to St. Mary’s  College who won out on the night in a close contest. They are the first team to retain the title. Our volunteer and director Mary McKearney organised this team but herself took part in our Friends of Albania team.

All prizes in the night were sponsored from different businesses and all facilities were provided free of charge. All funds raised went to these charities.  The event raised in total over 5,000 Euro for charity.

Jack McCann launches Albania photographic exhibition in Clare

12345CLARE’S Albanian community have come together to celebrate their heritage as part of a photography exhibition, which is set to be launched in Ennis this weekend.

The exhibition has been created in honour of 100 years of Albanian independence and it will be officially launched this Saturdayin the Clare Museum by Dr Jack McCann, chairman of  Irish Friends of Albania. The exhibition was compiled with the assistance of the Clare Albanian community and Irish Friends of Albania and it was first showcased in Galway in 2012.

According to Ndrek Gjini, Arts Office Assistant with Galway City Council, Clare is a fitting next stop for the exhibition due to the county’s sizeable Albanian population. “There are more than 300 Albanians living in Clare and more than that, Kosovans who are national Albanians too. Most of them made Ennis and Clare their home during the war in Kosovo in 1999.

During that war, the Irish government decided to send a humanitarian team to help and support those Albanians who were living in some camps in Albania escaping from Milosevic’s regime of genocide. Most of them have got now Irish citizenship and they are very well settled in Ennis and other towns in Clare. They own shops, restaurants, they run different businesses –  they are very well integrated into Irish society,” he said.

 This year is a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Independence of Albania. This exhibition, featuring photographic prints from the Albanian National Museum, is dedicated to this anniversary. Ndrek explained Albania has been controlled nearly continuously by a succession of foreign powers until the mid-20th century, with only brief periods of self-rule. “In the 11th century, Byzantine Emperor Alexius made the first recorded reference to a distinct area of land known as Albania and to its people. The Ottoman Empire ruled Albania from 1385-1912. The League of Prizren (1878) promoted the idea of an Albanian nation-state and established the modern Albanian alphabet, updating a language that survived the hundreds of years of Ottoman rule, despite being outlawed,” he outlined. “By the early 20th century, the weakened Ottoman Empire was no longer able to suppress Albanian nationalism. Following the conclusion of the First Balkan War, Albanians issued the Vlore Proclamation of November 28, 1912, declaring independence and the Great Powers established Albania’s borders in 1913. Albania’s territorial integrity was confirmed at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, after US President Woodrow Wilson dismissed a plan by the European powers to divide Albania among its neighbours. “During the Second World War, Albania was occupied first by Italy (1939-1943) and then by Germany (1943-44).

After the war, Communist Party leader Enver Hoxha managed to preserve Albania’s territorial integrity during the next 40 years but demanded a terrible price from the population, which was subjected to repression of civil and political rights, a total ban on religions, and increased isolation. “Following Hoxha’s death in 1985 and the subsequent fall of Communism in 1991, Albanian society struggled to overcome its historical isolation and underdevelopment. During the initial transition period, the Albanian government wanted closer relationships with the West in order to improve economic conditions and introduced basic democratic reforms, including a multi-party system. “Now, Albania is a member of the UN, member of NATO, member of Council of Europe and a potential candidate of the European Union since January 2003 and it formally applied for EU membership on April 28, 2009.”

The exhibition will be launched at 3.30pm in the Clare Museum and all are welcome.

The annual November volunteer team visit to Albania

999The annual November volunteer team visit to Albania will include 2 new initiatives for Irish Friends of Albania.

We make our first working visit to the Eye Clinic of Mother Theresa University Hospital. Mr Gerry Fahy of Galway has very generously joined our team and he will operate on children suffering from congenital ptosis. Children who suffer from ptosis cannot open their eyelids fully, in many cases they can only open their eyelids a fraction . It affects their vision and it is disfiguring.

In September and October Mr Fahy and Mr McCann used our tele-medicine unit to examine children in 5 centres of Albania and Kosova (Tirana, Pristina, Vlora, Kukes and Korca). This modern technology enabled Mr Fahy to diagnose their conditions and plan for their operations. It saved the children and their families journeys of hundreds of miles and it enabled us to deliver training to the Albanian doctors who work in the regions.  To date 7 children are listed for operation over a 3 day period.

We have ordered a new set of special instruments for ptosis operations and are making all the necessary arrangements for this first time visit to the Eye Clinic.

Our second initiative is a visit of 2 specialists to review the oncological services of MTUH with a view to assisting in the future where possible. Radiotherapist Dr. Maeve Pomeroy and physicist Wil Van Der Putten, both of GUH, will make their first visit to Albania. Wil has already established contacts with MTUH through his work at the Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

Mr Jack McCann will operate on patient suffering from facial trauma in the maxillofacial surgery unit together with the Chief of the Unit, Professor Ramazan Isufi. Mr McCann will then travel to Kosova to work in the Plastic Surgery and Maxillofacial Surgery Units of Pristina University Hospital.

Our surgeons will then present papers at the Annual International Maxillofacial Surgery Conference, co-hosted by the Albanian Society of Maxillofacial Surgery and Irish Friends of Albania.

The full volunteer team for the November trip is:

Mr Jack McCann, Mr Gerry Fahy, Dr. Maeve Pomeroy, Will Van Der Putten, Dr. Kevin Clarkson (anaesthetist), Mary Fitzmaurice (theatre nurse), Geraldine McNulty (CSSD – sterilisation), Michael Gannon (administrator).

The Albania trip dates are November 4th to November 11th. The Kosova dates are November 12th to November 17th.

The trips and the purchase of necessary instruments and materials will be a major cost for our charity so we are very grateful for any donations which can ease the burden.