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Danica Avsec MD, Councillor

Dr Danica Avsec is an anaesthesiologist with more than twenty years of experience in donor medicine. She graduated from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana in 1982, and completed specialty training in anaesthesia and resuscitation in 1991. She was awarded the title of Councillor in 2008.

As a specialist in anaesthesia and resuscitation, she worked in the Division of Surgery and Intensive Care, University Medical Centre Maribor. In 1998, she took up the function of hospital transplant coordinator and took an active part in the foundation of the national public institute for organ and tissue transplantation, Slovenia Transplant.

In 2001, she was appointed Director of Slovenia Transplant, and she still holds this office at present. She is responsible for supervision of the national donation and transplantation programme, coordination of donor and transplant activities at the national and international levels, development of this activity in Slovenia, and promotion and support of the programme at the national level. In line with Directive 2010/53/EU, she has been appointed responsible physician for the donor programme in Slovenia. Within the Eurotransplant international foundation for organ exchange, of which Slovenia has been a member state since 2000, she is a Board member (since 2016) and member of the advisory Ethical Committee (ETEC, since 2014).

Dr Avsec holds membership in numerous Slovenian and international professional associations. Since 2005, she has served on the Executive Committee of the Slovenian Transplant Association and on the Council for Transplantation of the Slovenian Medical Association. She is associate member of the Expert Advisory Committee for Transplantation at the Ministry of Health of RS. On the international level, she is Slovenia’s representative in the European Committee on Organ Transplantation (CD-P-TO) at the Council of Europe (since 2007), official delegate of the Ministry Health of RS in the European Commission at meetings of national institutions responsible for the field of organ transplantation (since 2007), President of the Board of Transplant Coordinators within the framework of UEMS Surgery (since 2016), and an examiner in examinations for the Certification of European Transplant Coordinator (since 2011).

She has participated in a number of international European projects as project manager (EDD), manager of individual work packages (EUDONORGAN, FOEDUS) and/or project manager for Slovenia (ACCORD, SOHO, MODE, ETPOD, EULID, EUROCET). As a key expert, she was involved in the project Technical Assistance for Alignment in Organ Donation (Turkey).

As invited speaker, Dr Avsec attends professional meetings and congresses in Slovenia and abroad. Her bibliography includes over 100 professional articles and is accessible in the COBISS database.

Hospital transplant coordinators

In every donor centre, there is a hospital transplant coordinator, who closely cooperates with central transplant coordinators and Slovenia Transplant.

Hospital transplant coordinators are experienced physicians, who perform this function alongside their regular work in the donor hospital. When a patient has been definitively diagnosed as brain dead, hospital transplant coordinators discuss the possibility of organ and tissue donation with the deceased person’s closest relatives or friends and obtain their consent to donation or refusal. They provide psychological support to the family and friends and are available for possible questions regarding further donation procedures.

List of hospital transplant coordinators, appointed by decision of the Minister of Health of RS (status on 1 April 2020):

  • University Medical Centre Ljubljana: Rade Stanić MD, MSc
  • University Medical Centre Maribor: Tanja Kuprivec MD
  • General Hospital Celje: Barbara Hudournik MD
  • General Hospital Murska Sobota: Daniel Grabar MD
  • General Hospital Nova Gorica: Edyta Čerkini MD
  • Deputy: Gregor Budihna MD
  • General Hospital Izola: Damjan Polh MD
  • General Hospital Ptuj: Mateja Prevolšek MD
  • General Hospital Jesenice: Andraž Nastran MD
  • General Hospital Novo mesto: Matej Godnič MD
  • General Hospital Slovenj Gradec: Rok Popič MD
  • Deputy: Jasna Uranjek MD, PhD
  • General Hospital Brežice: Nataša Pirc MD
  • Deputy: Matic Žvar MD

Central transplant coordinators

Central transplant coordinators play a key role in the process of deceased donor organ and tissue donation and transplantation in Slovenia and in the Eurotransplant region. They actively participate in the organisation of teams and transport, and coordinate the procedures and teams involved. By supervising the process, they ensure traceability of organs and tissues from donor to recipient. Two central transplant coordinators are on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

The central transplant coordinator team is composed of young, dynamic healthcare professionals and other staff who are specially qualified to perform their functions.

National team for brain-death determination

1. The committee for brain death determination consists of two physicians working independently of each other. One is a specialist in anaesthesia, internal medicine, or paediatrics working in the field of intensive care medicine, with experience in the treatment of patients with severe brain injury. The second team member is a specialist in neurology, neurosurgery or other relevant field, with experience in intensive care medicine and treatment of severe brain injuries. The team is assisted by a third physician who performs an ancillary instrumental investigation for the confirmation of brain death.

2. The mobile team for brain death assessment using electroencephalography (EEG) is made up of staff members of the Division of Neurology, University Medical Centre Ljubljana, who carry out the EEG examination in those donor hospitals that do not have the necessary equipment or staff for this investigation.