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April 2015 Visit to Tirana


April 2015 Visit to Tirana

 Mr Jack McCann will travel to Tirana soon to assist with the second and third Microsurgery Training Courses in Mother Teresa University Hospital.  These will take 6 trainees per course bringing the total number to 24 since the Microsurgery Training Laboratory opened in July 2014.  Irish Friends of Albania is currently fundraising to purchase a third new training microscope to donate to the Laboratory.

Our 8th Fashion Show on April 22nd 2015

2015 Poster

Galway Bay Hotel
Wednesday 22nd April 2015

We will have amazing collections from Ail Ruin, Brown Thomas, Colette Latchford, Design House Barna, Emily Jean Designs, Flanagan Footwear, Fusion Fashion, Galway Hat Shop, Garments, Joanne’s Fashion House, Kilkenny, Optique Opticians, Standun and Treasure Chest. Mandy Maher of Catwalk Model Agency will co-ordinate the Show and we will have Hospital Consultant Doctors as our male models showing menswear from Brown Thomas.
Thanks to all our sponsors including Renaissance Hair Salon, Sara Duffy Make-up, Fiesta House Ennis and Galway Bay Hotel.
Tickets will be available from participating shops, from Galway Bay Hotel and from Moya 087-8291916. Tickets will cost 25 euro, for which our guests will enjoy a Cheese & Wine reception sponsored by Butlers Chocolates, Seamus Sheridan and Simply Divine Cakes; gift bags from University Pharmacy; complimentary IMAGE magazines; a great Fashion & Jewellery  Exhibition; comedy with Frank Forde; a generous Raffle and a wonderful Fashion Show!

Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year


I would like to wish all our volunteers, directors, fundraisers, sponsors and collaborators a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year and to thank them all for their support.

I would especially like to thank Michael Gannon, who has been our Administrator since our Charity was founded in 2005.

Michael has recently stepped down but remains with us as a volunteer. He has given unstintingly of his time and expertise over the years and I wish him well.
Jack McCann, F.R.C.S.I., B.Sc.
Plastic Surgeon
Chairman Irish Friends of Albania

Surgical and Training Visit to Kosova and Albania


Surgical and Training Visit to Kosova and Albania
In early December our chairman Mr.Jack McCann visited the Maxillo-Facial Surgery Unit of Pristina University Hospital, Kosova. This unit is now under the direction of Professor Sami Salihiu since the retirement of Professor Osman Sejfiya who also met Jack a couple of times on this trip. Jack also visited the Plastic Surgery Department under Professor Hysni. There together with the local team he operated on some patients; two patients had large facial cancers and one child had a large fibroma on his nose. Jack also saw 2 patients with congenital absence of an ear; these are planned for reconstruction in 2015.
fotoThe Plastic Surgery Department has plans for a new unit; the main challenge is that the cost is close to €2 million. The total health budget for Kosova is €86 million euro for a population of 2 million people. This compares to over €12 billion euro for a population of 4 million in Ireland. In other words the health budget per capita is €3,000 in Ireland and just €43 in Kosova.
Jack travelled from Pristina to Tirana with Doctor Fellanza Gjinolli of the Maxillo-Facial Department and her husband Talat, a neurosurgeon. Their route went by way of Macedonia; this was Jack’s first visit to another very beautiful country.
The main occasion of Mr McCann visit to Albania was the International Maxillo-Facial Surgery Conference in Tirana organised by Professor Ramazan Isufi. Jack presented 2 papers at the conference; “Collaboration of Irish Friends of Albania with Mother Teresa University Hospital over the past 10 years” and “Maxillary Distraction – a case presentation”. The conference was a major international training event with 3 speakers from Germany, 2 from Italy, some from Kosovo and Macedonia as well as many local speakers from Tirana.
Professor Mentor Petrela of the Neurosurgery Department welcomed Jack back and the surgeons made plans for the next Microsurgery Workshop in April 2015. Irish Friends of Albania presented the training with some more micro instruments which are needed for training. A meeting was held with the new Dean of Medicine of Tirana University to discuss the strengthening of Microsurgery Training on the Surgery Curriculum.
Lina Sina, our part-time administrator in Albania, again was of immense help as translator and organiser. So it is time now to prepare for the April 2015 trip!

Audited Accounts now available to view


Audited Accounts for 20013,now available to view

We have now posted our audit for 2013 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 4 years medical collaboration with Mother Theresa University Hospital. Irish Friends of Albania Financial_Statements_2013

In 2012 and 2013 we have seen a fall  of over 20% in income raised from fundraising. This is to be expected in the current recession.

Click here to see it: Irish Friends of Albania Audit 2013 

Irish Friends Friends of Albania Ltd 2013

Albert Reynolds RIP

July 31st 2007

All at the charity were saddened to learn of the death of the former Taoiseach  Albert Reynolds this week. Albert Reynolds  was the eighth Taoiseach  (Prime Minister)of  Ireland, serving one term in office from 1992 until 1994.

We are all aware of his outstanding achievements throughout his political and business life and in particular his role in the peace process.
What is not so well known however is that Albert was also active during his retirement in support of several charities. Among those activities he supported the advancement of tele-medicine throughout Ireland and cultivated links between medical centres in Ireland and the USA. In 2006 he assisted us to purchase 2 tele-medicine units in order to create a link between Albania and Galway. This unit has been used to see dozens of patients over the years and to enable consultations between Ireland and Albania.

Our photo show Albert Reynolds on his visit to our office at 15 University Road in Galway on July 31st 2007 to launch the tele-medicine link.
Photo – L to R: Mr Jack McCann, Mr Padraic Regan, Michael Gannon, Micheal Kitt and Albert Reynolds at the tele-medicine link. On the screen live from Tirana is Margalina Sina.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Albania Opens First Microsurgery Training Laboratory

Microscope Laboratory Entrance
Mr Jack McCann and Prof. Mentor Petrela together with Albanian and Kosovar trainees outside the new Microsurgery Laboratory

Microsurgery Training Laboratory Established in Mother Theresa University Hospital

Microsurgery is surgery requiring an operating microscope. It enables anastomosis (reconnection) of small blood vessels and nerves and this allows transfer of tissue from one part of the body to another and re-attachment of severed parts. This is essential for treatment of damaged skin due to tumours or traumas.
Microsurgical techniques are utilized by general surgery, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, orthopaedic surgery, gynaecological surgery, otolaryngology, neurosurgery, oral and maxillofacial surgery, plastic surgery, and paediatric surgery.

Mother Theresa University Hospital and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Tirana sought our support to establish a Microsurgery Training Laboratory within MTUH. This initiative fitted perfectly with our mission to assist long term and lasting improvements in Albanian and Kosovar surgical services.

With the generous support of the public and all our fundraisers and of Irish Aid we were delighted to be able to help achieve the vision for a top-class facility which can train surgeons locally.

MTUH has one operating microscope which is several decades old but still functional. However two more microscopes were needed to enable group training. These microscopes come fitted with monitors which enable tutors and other students to observe the surgeons working.

Our chairman Mr Jack McCann assisted with the sourcing of the microscopes. We are grateful to Laboratory Instruments & Supplies of Ashbourne for supplying the equipment and to Priority Freight of Dover for looking after the transportation of this delicate cargo. Both companies supported the work with large discounts.

In July Mr Jack McCann travelled to Tirana and helped the local team to set up the laboratory in a dedicated room with the Dept of Neurosurgery in MTUH. Jack and local tutor Dr Ridvan he delivered the first week of training to 9 Albanian surgeons and 3 Kosovar surgeons from Prishtina University Hospital.

The welcome for the new facility was fantastic and this is an auspicious beginning for a surgical specialty that will benefit the populations of Albania and many Balkan countries for decades to come.

Friends of Albania Microscopes1
Mr Jack McCann and Microsurgery tutor Dr. Ridvan Alimehmeti oversee Albanian and Kosovar trainees in new Microsurgery Laboratory

Solar power assists the Elderly of Albania


Solar power assists the Elderly of Albania

In May our construction team from Kerry and Kilkenny successfully completed its fifth volunteer visit to Albania.
The team installed a solar panel water heating system for the 52 residents of the state owned Home for the Elderly in Kavaja, Central Albania.
The installation of a solar water heating system assures free hot water to the Home for as long as the sun shines, which is over 300 days a year. 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.
We are very grateful to our main sponsor Electric Aid who funded this mission with €8,000. We thank also RVR of Kenmare, Co. Kerry and other Kerry suppliers for the wonderful support they have given this mission. Without all this support the mission would not be possible.
In countries from Galway to Kerry to Co.Down our fundraisers worked hard towards making this mission possible and we are very grateful to them all.
The Irish team were: John Kehoe, Ger Treacy, Padraic Kerins, Donie Broderick, Aidan Kennedy, John Kenneyd and Robert O Leary. They were supported by a local team of 4 tradesmen to install the systems. These local tradesmen will help the home to maintain the system.
John and his workmates also checked all the systems installed in Abania since 2009.
Photo shows the team with residents and the director of the Kavaja Home for the Elderly following installation of the solar water cylinder.

€12,000 for our work with patients and children in Albania

We would like to thank you for supporting our Fashion Show in the Galway Bay Hotel last week. We had over 350 guests and there was a great atmosphere on the night.

Our model agency, our shops, our exhibitors and most importantly our audience on the night have all informed us that the night was a great success.

We are delighted as a charity that the show raised over €12,000 for our work with patients and children in Albania. Our next trip to Albania is in May.

Keep an eye out for the local papers, Image and Galway Now magazines for photos and reports of the Show. 



Fashion Show to be held in Galway Bay Hotel on Tuesday 1st April, 2014

jack 2

Jack McCann, Chairman of Irish Friends of Albania and Nuala Gorham of Catwalk Model Agency announcing the Fashion Show to be held in Galway Bay Hotel next Tuesday 1st April; Reception @7.15pm. Tickets €25 from Moya 087-8291916 or from Hotel. Great girls’ night out with comedy by FRANK FORDE! 

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

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

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.

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