A statement by Prof. Jerzy Szaflik

Decision with no grounds or justification

Referring to the information about my dismissal from the positions of Country Consultant in ophthalmology, Director of the Eye Tissue Bank in Warsaw and a member of the National Transplantation Board, and a related notification submitted to the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, I wish to declare that I find the actions taken by the Ministry of Health to be incomprehensible and based on unclear grounds. They make me feel defamed and humiliated.

Contrary to what the news may suggest, there is no corruption context to what has been referred to as the, ”procedural unclarities regarding cornea transplantations in Poland.”

During my conversation with the Minister of Health, I was confronted with no charges regarding my actions as the Country Consultant in ophthalmology, a member of the National Transplantation Board or Director of the Eye Tissue Bank. In this light, I have decided to appeal the decision made by Minister of Health Bartosz Arłukowicz to the labour court, notwithstanding other remedies that I intend to pursue in order to protect my good name and the reputation of my medical practice.

The Eye Tissue Bank, which I conceived, founded and managed since its inception, i.e. for 17 years, has been operating in accordance with the applicable regulations and rules; it is a modern facility organised in line with international guidelines and using state-of-the-art technologies. The Bank transfers corneal buttons only to the Clinical Ophthalmic Hospital in Warsaw or to those Cooperating Centres which obtained them; each corneal button collected or transferred since 1995 up until now can be traced very easily.

I do not feel guilty of any negligence in performing the functions of the Country Consultant, which I have held for 14 years, and Director of the Eye Tissue Bank.

The “Laser” Eye Microsurgery Centre, of which I am the owner, not Director, has never cooperated with the Eye Tissue Bank in Warsaw and has never received any corneas from the Bank. ”Laser”, which has operated patients requiring urgent cornea transplantations only sporadically (3 transplants in 2011, 4 transplants in 2012), meets personnel, equipment and housing requirements applicable to procedures of this type. The Centre obtained its transplant materials from the tissue bank in Zabrze and, in 2012, in Lublin only when other centres did not require corneas.

In 1989, I was an assistant professor at the Silesian Medical Academy in Katowice. It was at that time when I registered my private Ophthalmology Practice, where I provided eye consultations. The most important reason for which I decided to set up a private medical practice was, and still is, ensuring transparent patient-doctor relations.

I have never been accused of corruption in the 43 years of my medical practice.

In 1991, I won a nationwide competition for the position of the Head of the Ophthalmology Clinic, 2nd Department of the Warsaw Medical Academy. I then moved my private ophthalmology practice to Warsaw, and thus for more than 20 years I have:

  • provided my services privately only, and accounted for my tax dues through full bookkeeping,
  • never applied for or signed a contract with the National Health Fund.

The “Laser” Eye Microsurgery Centre is managed by a Director, whereas I provide private consultations or perform surgical procedures 5 or 6 times a month.

Following my professional start in Warsaw in the Ophthalmology Clinic, we would perform 60-80 corneal transplantations a year. None of Poland's four corneal transplantation centres operating at the time performed more. Believing that the number of transplantation could only be increased through establishing a cornea bank, I started laborious efforts to launch and, thanks to the support of the then Minister of Health, succeeded in launching the Eye Tissue Bank in Warsaw in 1995. As a result, the number of corneas collected started rising every year to reach 564 in 2011. Donors come from Warsaw and the neighbouring areas, while transplantations are performed in patients across Poland. This made it possible to perform 318 transplantations, 262 of which at the Clinical Ophthalmic Hospital I head.

It is the above results, not defamatory allegations, which speak the truth about the quality and efficiency of the work I have done for the good of my patients, the work I will continue as long as my strength allows.

Prof. Jerzy Szaflik, MD, PhD

Warsaw, 18 August 2012

© 2012. Jerzy Szaflik. Wszystkie prawa zastrzeżone.