Golden Czech Hands And Clever Czech Heads
Zlaté české ručičky a chytré české hlavičky is an old Czech proverb, meaning “golden Czech hands and clever Czech heads.” In 2011, a team of surgeons gathered around an operating table in Boston, Massachusetts to perform the nation’s first (and world’s third) full facial transplant. Lead by renowned plastic surgeon, Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, the patient’s nose, palate, upper lip, and facial skin, muscles, and nerves was successfully replaced with those of a deceased donor. Born in former Czechoslovakia, Dr. Pomahac’s groundbreaking achievements in plastic surgery are celebrated universally and abroad. As for the rest of the medical community, the newly named, “Czechia”, is setting the bar extra high when it comes to performance and innovation.
In a country known more for its medieval castles, hockey, and of course, beer, the Czechs are just as serious about their medical contributions. Check out 4 ways the Czechs are ahead of the game:
1. The “Heart” Of Europe
Faithfully beating more than 100,000 times a day, the heart is unquestionably one of our most vital organs. Landlocked between Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia, the Czech Republic is often referred to as “The Heart of Europe”.
Appropriately, the Czechs are world leaders in cardiac surgery; performing the country’s first successful heart transplant in 1984. Recognized for their excellent system of healthcare for those suffering from acute coronary symptoms- especially the treatment and prevention of heart attacks- the Czech Republic is also home to state-of-the-art cardiovascular centers as well as some of the world’s top cardiac specialists.
Since 2005, Prague’s Na Homolce hospital has been using robotic technology to assist in various surgeries, including cardiac. In 2016, they added a new, upgraded member to their surgical team. His name? Da Vinci Xi. Controlled by a human surgeon, Da Vinci Xi’s mechanical arms offer precision that would not otherwise be possible.
2. Second Chances
In 1932, the Czech Republic became the first country in the world to recognize plastic surgery as an independent branch of medicine. Many Czech surgeons, including Dr. Pomahač, have received international acclaim; and their success is no accident. After a minimum of 6 years at an accredited university, medical students must pass a rigorous series of exams followed by a two years residency with an experienced practitioner. It can be nearly a decade before they ever perform an operation.
While working at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Dr. Pomahač became increasingly interested in the subject of face transplants. In 2009, the first partial face transplant was successfully completed in France. Four years later, Dr. Pomahač and his surgical team performed a 17-hour operation to reconstruct the severely disfigured face of James Maki, age 59. In 2011, Dr. Pomahač led a team of 30 physicians, nurses and anesthesiologists for more than 15 hours to complete the first full transplant in the USA (see photo above).
3. Fighting Infertility
Since 1978, nearly 5 million babies have been born thanks to infertility treatment- specifically IVF. In
1984, the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) became one of the first countries to pioneer In Vitro Fertilization and facilitate a successful birth.
According to NHS, 1 in 7 couples will have difficulty conceiving. Determined to help millions of men and women realize their dream of starting a family, the Czechs continue to invest a fortune in comprehensive IVF centers and extensive reproduction procedures. Today, they rank among the highest IVF success rates; 70 % in cases involving donated eggs. Czech legislation also plays a critical role in the rapidly growing field. It permits anonymous donation and the option to choose the physical characteristics of the donated egg or sperm in order to prevent serious genetic diseases.
As a result, the Czech Republic attracts thousands of couples from around the world coming for “IVF Holidays”. Significantly cheaper than treatment in the United States or the UK, IVF prices can start as low as 2500 Euros and egg donation from 3800 Euros. The Czechs offer affordable options without compromising safety and quality.
4. In Utero
Approximately 1 in every 5,000 women is born without a uterus, cervix, and upper vaginal canal. The rarely-discussed, devastating syndrome, MRKH, makes it impossible to carry a fetus to term.
Historically, women with MRKH have had very few options, one of which being a uterus transplant from a live donor. In 2016, Czech doctors from the Prague-based Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKEM) performed the sixth of now thirteen worldwide uterus transplants. Czech experts say that the next step is transplanting from dead donors. For thousands of women, this means the opportunity to carry and give birth.