For the past six years, Željko Radić has been the official driver of the Ministry of Health’s transplant vehicle. During this time, he has transported over 80 organs, saving 80 lives. His job involves transporting medical teams from Zagreb to the location of the organ and then returning with them and the organ to the hospital for transplantation.
Initially, every trip was stressful for him, but it has become routine. He is on duty 24 hours a day and must always be available. Radić plans the fastest route to transport the organs and frequently visits Zagreb’s “Franjo Tuđan” Airport.
Kidneys and livers are typically transported on commercial flights because they can be outside the body for longer periods of time. However, hearts, which can only be outside the body for four hours, are usually transported on more urgent flights. Sometimes, if necessary, he transports organs to the border of the country where they are needed.
When hearts and lungs are transported, Radić’s vehicle is accompanied by police to reach their destination as quickly as possible. All details regarding organ transportation and medical team logistics are led by coordinators at the Ministry of Health.
Emanuel Brađašević is a 26-year-old transplant coordinator at the Ministry of Health responsible for organizing transportation within 30 minutes. Transporting liver and kidneys is routine but hearts and lungs often require private flights when they need to be transported urgently or internationally. The most stressful situations occur when coordinating multi-organ exploitation; Brađašević mentions that not sleeping for 40 hours was his most challenging shift yet.
Coordinators check a register of voluntary donors when a potential donor is announced by a hospital, obtaining consent from family members if necessary