Thursday, May 13, 2021

George Blatzas, the Doctor of Saint Paisios, Has Reposed

George Blatzas reposed in the Lord on the Monday of Renewal Week, 3 May 2021, on the feast of his patron saint, the great martyr George.

George Blatzas was not only a leading surgeon, but also a consistent Christian and confessor of the Christian faith from his teenage years, as a mediator of the civil strife. The spiritual son of the preacher of the Metropolis of Kitros and Katerini and later a well-known missionary of Africa, Fr. Charitonos Pneumatikakis, he had a connection early with Mount Athos and especially with Saint Paisios.

The Saint was twice operated on at Theagenio Cancer Hospital of Thessaloniki by the experienced and master surgeon George Blatzas. Once for the treatment of his hernia that tormented him for many years and secondly for colon cancer in the last six months of his life. He admired the Saint and revered him as a Saint while he was still alive, because he was attracted by the miraculous signs of his holiness. After his death in 1994, he repeatedly gave interviews on television, radio and the press about his interesting experiences of the amazing behavior of the Saint in the last six months of his martyric and holy life. His love and admiration for the Saint cannot be expressed. His life changed drastically and he became a warm member of the Church and a regular visitor of the monasteries of Mount Athos and especially of the Monastery of Docheiariou. He was the unpaid physician of many Mount Athos fathers.

His long life (91 years) was full of genuine Christian faith and offering to the seriously ill of everyday life. God honored him and received his soul on Bright Monday, to rest from his many labors and Christian works in the eternal Paradise.

He was born in Katafygio of Kozani in 1930. His high school studies were completed in Katerini in 1949 and then he studied at the Aristotle University School of Medicine. He received his degree in Medicine in 1956. In 1960 he received the specialty title of General Surgeon. In December 1957 he took the position of University Assistant (Prof. A. Mysirloglou) with examinations, and served continuously in the same clinic until November 1972 as an internal assistant, Curator (Prof. K. Tountas) as an authorized Lecturer (Prof. D. Lazaridis).

In 1962 he was awarded a doctorate and in 1968 a Lecturer at the Aristotle University School of Medicine. He was trained in England in 1963. Throughout his long service and training in surgery, he responsibly taught and practiced many medical students.

In 1973 he took over the management of the newly established Surgery-Oncology Clinic of Theageniou Cancer Hospital, which emerged, thanks to the effort of the Surgical team that George Blatzas set up in a model Oncology-Surgery Clinic. The First Surgery-Oncology Clinic at Theagenio Cancer Hospital, he managed for a 25-year period and throughout this period, the clinic, thanks to contact with major centers abroad, with continuous visits and exchanges, was the pioneer in Surgical Oncology in Greece.

More than 50 doctors in the specialty of surgery were trained in the clinic. A significant number of surgeons were also trained in the clinic in Surgery-Oncology under his management and mainly in the latest techniques which he developed and which were applied for the first time in Greece. It is worth noting that some of the pioneering research-therapeutic methods were awarded at international and Greek conferences.

Mr. Blatzas published about 200 scientific papers and participated in many international and Greek conferences. In recent years he has dealt almost exclusively with cancer both in terms of research and treatment as well as in terms of organization and Surgical Oncology.

He organized five pan-Hellenic oncology conferences and was President of the Hellenic Society of Surgical Oncology for 5 years.

His long (35 years) involvement with cancer and especially with the cancer patient, contributed in Mr. Blatzas gaining sufficient experience and mental contact with his patients and the problems of the disease in general.

To date, he has been invited to speak on cancer issues in many cities in Greece and abroad.

At the same time and in parallel with his academic course, he was employed since 1970 with the organization of a private hospital (General Clinic of Thessaloniki SA) in collaboration with a team of distinguished doctors of Thessaloniki to achieve a high level of hospitalization in the private sector.

After leaving the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Theagenia he continued the work of the surgeon, while at the same time he devoted himself to the reorganization of technological equipment and provision of medical and nursing care at the General Clinic of Thessaloniki SA as Managing Director Advisor and President.

Below is an interview he gave with Menelaos Terzopoulos, where he talks about Saint Paisios, his surgeries, his sickness, and the way he faced his suffering.