Jun 1, 2007

For Amalia | Για την Αμαλία

The Fray - How To Save A Life

Today the Greek blogosphere is dedicating June 1st to Amalia Kalyvinou, a victim of cancer, of medical malpractice and of Greek bureaucracy that lead to an excruciatingly painful odyssey of suffering for 22 years and ultimately to her death at the age of 30.

Amalia had been blogging about her ordeal for the last couple of years. On her last post she abruptly stopped answering comments from her regular readers and newcomers who had recently found out about her trying experience from Greek TV and newspaper headlines. Her hospital social worker posted a comment informing visitors of Amalia's untimely demise.

The Greek blogosphere froze at her sudden passing, having lost one of its most militant and humane blog authors. Greek bloggers have organized a protest by sending out these texts [Greek] [English] to government, medical facilities & professionals, politicians, political parties and media and marking the first of June "For Amalia" "Για την Αμαλία" to continue her cause for a BETTER HEALTH SYSTEM.

Amalia's blog received great attention -not only because readers were moved by her concise articles and her courageous stiff upper lip when the cancer took her leg- - but because she touched on a long-standing Greek social sore. She blogged about under-the-table payments for Greek public hospital doctors, which was the name of her blog fakellaki.blogspot.com (fakellaki=small envelope containing cash as payback for "favors"). Amalia listed the doctors and medical professionals who helped her as well as the quacks that ascribed her pains as idiopathy, when the benign tumor in the x-ray she had taken at age 8 (!) was detectable and still... curable

The Greek public health care system is bad and it's up to us -the citizens, the taxpayers, the patients- to demand it gets better. It's up to us to ensure that those governing will (ever?) get their priorities straight: To put forth a national health and education budget and program that truly respects its citizens. Greece still has a long way to go.

Having gone in and out of various Greek hospitals over the years I have met many decent and compassionate Greek medical professionals who did not ask for the "fakellaki". Hopefully these dedicated doctors outnumber the quack doctors that have caused pain, humiliation and disgust to all the Amalias.