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The “Nucleo Operativo di Protezione Civile” (Operational Group of Civil Defense), NOPC, was created in 1993 by the effort of few volunteers, who, having worked for some years in the field of Civil Defense, felt the need of a group capable to answer the requirements, which no agency had a specific competence in. The purpose was to provide the sociomedical sector with services, no existing structure was able to offer.

At the time in Tuscany the transplant activity reached a significant level. In close cooperation with the medicians in charge of the whole transplant sector of the region, all logistical aspects were studied and those volunteers left the respective Associations and constituted the NOPC, non-profit volunteer association, recognized by Florence Town Municipality and Province, registered in the Volunteers Regional Register and in the Civil Defense Department of the Council of Ministers.

The first office was open in Florence and was full operational and able to comply with the requirements of the organs donation.

In 1994, the cardiothorax department of the Le Scotte Hospital in Siena started the heart transplant activity: the first important transplant Centre in Tuscany. Since the beginning the NOPC support this Center for the logistics, taking charge of all movements of the medical teams, engaged in removal of organs to be transplanted: is a task difficult but quite stimulating, since it allows to make good use of the experiences already done and to improve even more the whole structure.

The support given by NOPC foresees, deals with and solves all the organization and logistic facets, which can be met during the transport of organs removal équipes, considering that these trips cover the whole national territory, using land and air assets. In some occasion, due to precise requirements, the transfer has been arranged both by car, by helicopter and by aircraft: the complexity of this kind of organization is, in particular, in minimizing idle times among changes.

The skill, professionalism, accuracy and punctuality demonstrated was such that in 1996, when the activity of liver transplants Centre starts in Cisanello Hospital in Pisa, NOPC is called to take charge of the linked logistic problems.

The synergy subsequently reached is so satisfactory that in 1999, when the number of liver transplants in Pisa is increased (around one hundred per year), NOPC is indicated as the system expert partner in establishing the Transplant Coordination Centre.

In 1997 the Bone Marrow Transplant Centre at Careggi Hospital requests NOPC the availability to organize bone marrow transports, specifying that this would involve travelling all over the world. Personnel employed had to have specific training and exact knowledge of procedures as well as to be able to face schedule changes to make travel times as short as possible, in consideration of the main use of airliners with all relative implications.

NOPC volunteers have therefore attended special courses and a practical training in planning and carrying out these transports assisted by Careggi BMTC personnel.

The Tuscan Tissues Bank, established mainly to handle corneas removals, in 1998 is called to deal also with homograft, cardiac biological valves; activity assigned to the heart surgery department at Pisa hospital. NOPC is called to take care of this too.

In 1999, the Tissue Bank increase its involvement with the removal of bony tissues, assigned to Careggi Orthopedic Trauma Centre. Once again NOPC will cooperate.
In the light of the quality and the reliability of its services, NOPC adds to its user list the Bone Marrows Transplant Centres in Vicenza, Bologna, Verona, Reggio Calabria, Cagliari, Pisa, Torino, Milano, Udine and others. The number of transports increases from 20 in 1994 to about 900 in 2006.

Thus, NOPC had the need to adjust the number of volunteers involved and their training as well as the number of cars available from two to six. To improve the quality, the effectiveness and the rapidity of relationship, coordination and operations two new offices also have been open in Pisa in 2000, and in Milano in 2002.

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