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April 2015 Microsurgery Training

Microscope Laboratory Entrance

The second and third Microsurgery training workshops were completed in the week of 13th–18th April 2015 in the Microsurgery Training Laboratory in the Neurosurgical Department of the Mother Theresa University Hospital in Tirana, Albania. The teaching was by Dr Ridvan from the Neurosurgery Department, Dr Sokol Isaraj from the Plastic Surgery Department and myself, Mr Jack McCann from Galway. We had 3 Microscope Stations and we trained 6 Maxillofacial Surgeons, 3 Plastic Surgeons and 2 Neurosurgeons from Kosovo and also 2 Neurosurgeons from Macedonia. This group of 13 combined with the 12 from 2014 brought our total so far to 22 (as 3 had already attended a partial course.) They were very enthusiastic and showed good microsurgical skills.
The courses entailed end to end anastomosis of arteries and veins, end to side anastomosis, vein grafts, nerve repair and nerve grafting. These were basic courses and it is necessary that each participant practice as much as possible in order to maintain their skills before they embark on real cases. They will be able to attend refresher courses in time. There is already a large waiting list for the workshop training. Our intention is to provide more microscopes and instruments to facilitate the training of more surgeons in each Microsurgery course, who will then bring the skills to their own units to the benefit of their patients.
These courses are currently being provided free of charge and are being sponsored by Irish Friends of Albania and the Neurosurgery Department of Mother Theresa Hospital. The normal cost of such a course in the UK is approximately £1500 sterling per person, plus flights and accommodation.
We intend to continue the training courses with Professor Mentor Petrela (of the Neurosurgery Department) and the Dean of the Medical School, who are in the process of putting Microsurgical training on the Curriculum for all surgical trainees.

Jack McCann, F.R.C.S.I., B.Sc.,
Consultant Plastic Surgeon (retired)
Chairman, Irish Friends of Albania

Full House for Fashion Show and €12,000 raised

fashionMany thanks to the full house of  400 people who came to our Fashion Show at the Galway Bay Hotel on March 12th. The night was a great success and raised 12,000 Euro for our work. Our 6th Annual Fashion Show was as exciting and stylish as ever. The Galway Bay Hotel  on the Promenade was thronged for a wonderful evening of Spring fashion. Catwalk models were joined by some of Galway’s hardest working doctors, some modelling for the first time, others becoming regular attractions of our event. Most of our favourite shops and exhibitions were with us again and they were joined by some exciting new ones. We were honoured by the presence of the Mayor of Galway Terry O Flaherty and of our great friend and long-time supporter Sabina Higgins from Aras an Uachtarain.

Images of the night and of the guests can be viewed at the website of our photographer Martina Regan.  at The password is  albaniagalway1

The following shops and exhibitors took part on the night.


Beverly Hills
Brown Thomas
Colette Latchford
Design House Barna
Emily Jean
E-Von Fashions
Flanagans Footwear
Galway Hat Shop
Myriam O Reilly
Optique Opticians
Treasure Chest


Brown Thomas (make-up)
Captain Tortue Group
Fiona Mangan Bespoke Headwear
Nurturing Touch
Wrapsody Gift Shop
Hair Stylist: Hut Salon
Gift Bags: University Pharmacy
Make Up: Sarah Duffy
Photography: Cigala D Or
Balloons: Fiesta House.

Great thanks are due to all and we hope their businesses will thrive in 2013. The funds raised will be used to cover costs of our renovation and installation of solar water heating systems of the Kavaja Home for the Elderly in Albania. 

We would like to  pay special tribute to Moya McCann and Mary McKearney who were tireless in their work over the past 3 months to make this such a successful event.

Click here: Irish Friends of Albania Fashion Show Poster

Mr Jack McCann on July Working Visit to Kosova

Our Chairman, plastic surgeon, Mr Jack McCann made his 5th volunteer working visit to Kosova for the period of July 16th to 20th.

Mr McCann worked with Professior Osman Sefije and local surgeons in the maxillofacial surgery department of Pristina University Hospital to operate on patients he first met on his last visit in May. These operations included scalp rotation flap for large carcinoma, advanced rotation flap for ancer of the  cheek and reconstruction of microstomia on  a child of 9 years old.

 Mr McCann lectured on themes of maxillofacial surgery at the Summer School of the Department of Medicine of the University of Pristina.

He was supported throughout the visit by our co-ordinator Margalina Sina from Tirana.

Special thanks to the University of Pristina for covering the travel and accommodation costs of this visit, which was of great benefit to patients, local medical personnel and students.

In this photograph taken at Pristina Universtiy are l to r:
Prof. Nasar Mrasori, vice rector of  Pristina University
Lina Sina, Co-ordinator Irish Friends of Albania
Mr Jack McCann, Plastic Surgeon, Chairman Irish Friends of Albania
Prof. Muje Rugova, the Rector of the Prishtina University,
Prof. Osman Sejfia, chief of Maxillofacial surgery service, Prisina University Hospital



Kosovar Surgeons on July Training Placement in Galway

doctor kosovaWe are delighted to welcome 3 plastic surgeons from Pristina University Hospital, Kosova to University Hospital Galway for a 2 week training observership. Dr.s Zejne Buja, Shkelqim Derguti and Ylber Zejnullahu have all worked with Mr McCann during his visits to Pristina and have been to Tirana to participate in our micro surgery missions and training conferences there over the years. All 3 completed a course in micro surgery in London from July 9th to 13th, with the support of the International Organisation for Migration. We were delighted to join forces with IOM in order to arrange an onward visit to Ireland.

Special thanks to the consultants and teams of the Plastic Surgery Department, to GUH administration for facilitating the visit and to the Irish Consulate in Belgrade for working tirelessly to process visas for the doctors.

We wish them a successful placement and hope they enjoy Galway in the Summertime.

Busy Week for Jack McCann in Kosova

fotoMr. Jack McCann, plastic surgeon and chairman of our charity, had a busy and varied working visit from May 13th to May 19th to Prishtina, Kosova. This is his 4th visit to Kosova since his first was made in May 2011. Our Albanian co-ordinator Margalina Sina accompanied Jack on this visit.

On his arrival Mr. McCann saw 60 patients in the clinic organized in the maxillofacial department of Prishtina University Hospital.

Over 4 days Mr. McCann operated six patients in the maxillofacial and plastic surgery units. This operations involved haemangioma of cheek and upper lip reduction, excision of naevus and finger deformities, breast reconstruction and carcinoma. During these operations the surgical teams of both departments participated.  The was a very important training week for them as many of these operations were being performed for the first time in Kosova

Many of these local doctors have participated in the operations and training workshops which we have carried out in Tirana over the past 3 years.

Mr McCann lectured to medical staff and students on site in the hospital. On Friday Mr McCann presented papers on the treatment of maxillofacial trauma at the Annual Conference of the Kosova maxillofacial surgeons Society. At this conference he was conferred with honorary membership of the society, along with an Italian colleague Mr. Bruzati.

Outside of clinics and theatre Mr McCann held meetings with a number of important supporters and policy makers. The minister for Health Ferid Agani thanked our charity for its contribution to Kosova and Albania.

He pledged his support for badly needed improvements to the facilities of plastic and maxillofacial surgery and the creation of facilities for a national burns unit and a micro surgery unit. The entire national health budget for Kosova, a country with 2 million people, is less than the budget for the western region of the HSE, so one can appreciate the difficulties in achieving investment and improvements.

Ms. Ruhije Hodza- Beganovic, medical officer of the International Organisation for Migration informed Mr McCann of its support to the Plastic Surgery Unit in Kosova. This support comes from Lichoping, Sweden and Swedish surgeons have been supporting the training and development of local surgeons. In July a group of 3 Kosova surgeons will train in micro surgery in London. We aim to compliment this training with placement training for the group in Galway hospitals. This will be valuable training achieved at very low cost.

Finally we donated 3 sets of plastic surgery instruments to Prishtina University Hospital. Our thanks to Murray Surgical for its assistance in supplying these instruments to us.

Mr McCann had many requests to return to Kosova. He is looking forward to his next visit, to the participation of Kosovar colleagues in our Tirana events and vica versa. Albania and Kosova are neighbouring countries with a common background and language and the development of common skills and services in healthcare can only benefit both peoples.

Solar Water Heating Installed for the 50 children of Durres Infants Home

Our construction team from Kerry and Kilkenny successfully completed its fourth volunteer visit to Albania from May 12th to 19th.

The team installed a solar panel water heating system for the 26 children of the state owned Infant’s Home in Durres, western Albania.  Many of the children are orphaned or were given over by their families in the care of the state. This home also caters for another 20 children who come daily to the centre. The home needs a reliable and economical supply of hot water.

The installation of a TiSun solar water heating system assures this free hot water to the Home for as long as the sun shines, which is over 300 days a year in Durres. This will reduce their electricity bills dramatically. Therefore the system more than pays for its costs within a few years and continues to supply hot water for years to come.

TiSun, the German manufacturer of the solar technology, generously donated the equipment in support of our work.

We are very grateful to RVR of Kenmare, Co. Kerry and other Kerry suppliers for the wonderful support they have given this mission. They have donated materials and supplied others at cost to the team. TiSun, the German manufacturer of the solar equipment has donated the main materials. Without all this support the mission would not be possible.

The people of Kerry and Kilkenny rallied around wonderfully to support this mission, and the team collected over €5,000 towards the cost of the mission.

Durres Home Construction Team

The Irish team were: John Kehoe, Ger Treacy, Dan Aylward, Padraic Kerins, Donie Broderick, Aidan Kennedy and Sean Daly. They were supported by a local team of 5 tradesmen to install the systems. These local tradesmen will help the home to maintain the sytem.

John and his workmates also checked the systems installed in Vlora in 2011 and in Tirana in 2009. Vlora had suffered a burn out due to a power overload, this was repaired and breakers to prevent further overloads were installed.

Photo shows the team with Ms Heroina, the director of the Durres Infants Home with the team, following installation of the solar water cylinder.

L to R: Dan Aylward, Isuf Dalliu, Donie Broderick, Adrain Baho, John Kehoe, Heroina, Aidan Kennedy, Ger Treacy, Padraic Kerins, Sean Daly, Isa Sulaj, Bujar Quku.



Annual General Meeting takes place on May 8th, 2012

We would like to invite you to the Annual General Meeting of Irish Friends of Albania, which will be held at 8 pm on Tuesday May 8th at the Meyrick Hotel. The meeting itself will be short, it will report on the busy year we had last year and look forward to the rest of 2012 and 2013. There are medical visits planned for late 2012 and for 2013. A construction team travels later this month. Fund raising events are ongoing. The AGM  will also elect some people to our Board of Directors. Following the meeting we will have a drink together and this is an opportunity to catch up with other volunteers and friends of the charity, some of whom go back 7 years now to our beginnings in 2005. Please join us if you can and please feel free to invite any friends or colleagues who may not have received this notice. Some people have changed their contact details over the years so we may not have accurate details for all our supporters.

Volunteer medical team visit completes surgery and training in Albania in February.

Albania CLinic 2Our volunteer team of 3 surgeons, 4 anaesthetists, 2 nurses and an A&E consultant completed a very successful visit to Mother Theresa University Hospital from February 5th to February 12th. Volunteer medical team visit completes surgery and training in Albania in February. Our volunteer team of 3 surgeons, 4 anaesthetists, 2 nurses and an A&E consultant completed a very successful visit to Mother Theresa University Hospital from February 5th to February 12th. The team worked in 4 areas with our colleagues in Mother Theresa University Hospital. In surgery our team continued its regular visits to the Maxillofacial Unit of MTUH, where surgeons operated to repair a fistula on a child suffering from a child palate, who had suffered severe breathing difficulties over the years. Our team operated on 3 patients in the Neurosurgery Unit. These patients had all suffered from cancerous tumours which Albanian surgeons had removed with success, but all patients needed ‘free flap’ surgery to heal the wounds left after this surgery. Free flap surgery is advanced surgery which transfers muscle and tissue from one area of the body to another area to close wounds. The surgery requires use of a microscope or surgical loops.

The operations were done together by Irish and Albanian plastic surgeons, with support from oncology and neuro surgeons.
This was our first working visit to the neurosurgery unit and we are very grateful for the warm welcome extended by the chief, Prof. Mentor Petrela and by all his staff in theatre, ICU and on the wards.

Our volunteer anaesthetists and ICU nurse delivered the 2 day BASIC (Basic Assessment and Support in Intensive Care) Course to a group of 25 Albanian and Kosovar doctors and nurses. The course lectures were given in the tele-medicine unit were broadcast to 6 regional centres throughout Albania and Kosova and followed by over 40 other doctors.
Hands-on training was delivered in the newly completed Intensive Care Unit of MTUH. This ICU will open in the next few weeks so our training of the assigned personnel was very timely.

Recently retired Chief of Galway University Hospital Accident & Emergency Services, Mr. Tony Martin, visited the newly completed Trauma Hospital in MTUH. He advised on the organisation of the new services there. Mr Martin toured the unit and met the key people who will run this service, which is the main A&E for over 2 million people. He gave hospital personnel, the hospital director and the Minister for Health the benefit of his Irish and international experience.

The entire team are pleased with the visit, which was complex and challenging to organise, but achieved all its aims. Unfortunately the collapse of Malev airlines required urgent rerouting of all the group just 2 days ahead of departure. Many thanks to the staff of Corrib Travel for their wonderful work on this front. Special thanks to Margalina Sina, our local co-ordinator and interpreter in Tirana for her tireless work to make the busy week such a success.

Most importantly the patients are doing well and looking forward to returning home from hospital soon.

The February 2012 volunteer team was

Name            Role
Thamir Ismail    Surgeon
Frank Conroy    Surgeon
Jack McCann    Surgeon
Tony Martin    A & E Consultant
John Bates            Anaesthetist & BASIC tutor
Tadhg Lynch    Anaesthetist & BASIC tutor
Clarkson, Kevin    Anaesthetist & BASIC tutor
Joseph Costello    Anaesthetist & BASIC tutor
Christine Sheehan    IC Nurse & BASIC tutor
Mary Fitzmaurice     Theatre Nurse

Thanks to all for giving so generously of their time and expertise, and for adapting so well to last minute flight changes, chilly weather in Tirana in April and long working days in the hospital.