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3 years since the Colectiv fire: Romania would not be ready for a similar tragedy: not enough hospital beds for the burnt patients, no tissue bank

Three years are commemorated since the Colectiv tragedy on Tuesday, October 30. Following the deadly fire burst out in a nightclub in Bucharest on night of October 30, 2015, during a rock band concert, 64 people, mostly youngsters, died, 26 on the scene, as they could not save themselves from the flames, and the rest passed away later on, while admitted in the hospitals in Romania or abroad. Among the victims there were students, pupils, journalists, photographers, artists, architects or corporate employees. Nine months after the tragedy, another young man died, with the death toll reaching 65.

Amid this tragic commemoration, the debate on the how prepared is Romania to face a potential similar tragedy is again at issue, with more and more elements confirming that we could not face such a similar disaster in terms of medical care conditions.

Health minister Sorin Pintea admitted that Romania only has 11 special hospital beds for burnt patients and that out country would still resort to external aid in case of a similar incident.

We currently have 11 such beds. No country in Europe can treat such a high number of victims as there were at Colectiv. We’d resort to external aid, but we hope such a tragedy will not happen again,” Health minister Sorina Pintea told Digi24.

Also asked to comment the situation of those big four centres for burnt patients, the minister said the contracts for designing and feasibility studies have been signed.

According to a World Bank programme, Romania was supposed and still has to build four centres for serious burnt patients in Timisoara, Targu Mures and two in Bucharest. On August 6, 2018, the contract for the feasibility study and for designing was signed,” Pintea said.

On the other hand, a former Health minister, Vlad Voiculescu said that, indeed, any other country would need help in case of such a tragedy, but underlined that no other country would have denied the treatment abroad for its citizens, as it happened in the first days after the Colectiv fire.

Romania has no tissue bank anymore

Moreover, it seems that Romania has also lost a vital element in the medical care chain in case of major fires: the only tissue bank that our country had has been closed down eight months ago, with authorities keeping a low profile about that.

Authorities have invoked that the bank had no infrastructure and that the human and financial resources were not enough for a proper performance.

Health minister explained why we have come to this, although four years ago there were plans to create four tissue banks in Romania.

Two years ago, the tissue bank within the Grigore Alexandrescu hospital for children received a compliance plan, as the bank looked more like a makeshift. Nothing happened in two years, so the bank’s activity has been suspended. Proceedings are currently done using artificial skin”.

Pintea further said that the projected tissue banks could not be made anymore due to technical reasons, such as the plots of lands and other permit-related issues. However, she informed that the document proceedings on the bank in Bucharest are pretty advanced, while they are still pending in the countryside, meaning in Iasi, Timisoara and Targu Mures.

The tissues of the bank inside the Grigore Alexandrescu hospital, which originated from the clinically dead patients, used to be frozen and preserved in special containers.

During the Colectiv fire, the bank accommodated 7,000 square centimeters of skin, which was enough for 137 patients.

About Alina Grigoras Butu