Interview with Prof. Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi – one of the first urologists of the University Clinical Center of Kosova
One of the contributors to the establishment and development of the Urology Clinic in Kosova, prof. Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi, speaks for the Bulletin of the Kosova College of Surgeons. Among other things, Prof. Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi, one of the first urologists of the University Clinical Center of Kosova, shows how they functioned in the most difficult periods, taking into account the circumstances of that time, who were the founders of the Urology Clinic, at the University Clinical Center of Kosova, who were the first urologists of this clinic, where is urology today in Kosova and many other issues. He also, apart from being a distinguished urologist, has a literary background, with publishing several books.
This interview, Prof. Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi begins by including the time period from the 1969s, from the beginning of the establishment of the Faculty of Medicine in Pristina, to the present day, in order to present a brief history of the creation of the initial clinics. He shows that since those years, the steps to establish all clinics have begun, from the wards of the General Hospital that have been turned into basic clinics among the few spaces of the existing hospital. At the same time, I want to emphasize that at that time there were very, very few Albanian cadres. Until then, the entire General Hospital was led by Serbian and Montenegrin staff. It is important to emphasize that in 1966, since the departure of Aleksandër Ranković, the political scene of Kosova also changed. The political circumstances in Kosova at that time also changed fundamentally, since the Albanians were given more rights than in 1969, and under the patronage of the University of Belgrade, the University of Pristina was founded. From 1974, the independent University of Pristina was established. In this year, the Faculty of Medicine was founded, with all the basic units of the clinics, especially the Clinic of Surgery, in which all the basic mini-clinic departments were incorporated. At that time, the Albanians obviously won their rights in a dignified way for more adequate leadership and development of the Faculty of Medicine.
For this period of time, according to him, the flowering of education in the then-Kosova begins. For the establishment of the University of Pristina and its further development, many intellectuals and many doctors of that time have taken the main credit for the further development of the Faculty of Medicine. In the meantime, essential measures were taken for the transformation of the General Hospital into separate clinics, although with a smaller capacity, but for the beginning or at the starting point it was sufficient. But the main problem was to provide Albanian staff for all the clinics that needed to be provided in time.
Until then, according to Prof. Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi, the entire medical staff of Kosova was educated and prepared in the University cities of the Faculties of Medicine, in the former Yugoslavia in limited numbers such as in Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Skopje. And then doctors from all the cities of Kosova were admitted to the existing clinics. We should mention some of the founders of the Faculty of Medicine, at that time, Prof. Dr. Izedin Osmani, Prof. Dr. Talat Pallaska, Prof. Dr. Musa Haxhiu, Prof. Dr. Osman Imami, and many, many other doctors.
NIn the then Prishtina Hospital, the director was Prof. Dr. Izedin Osmani and as coordinator Prof. Dr. Talat Pallaska. These made possible the acceptance of Albanian staff in surgical clinics. In May 1973, I was also accepted into the urology specialization at the Urology clinic. From the hospital in Prizren, I moved to Pristina, to continue working at the Faculty of Medicine.
Meanwhile, following the interview, Prof. Dr. Bytyçi emphasized that in the Urology clinic, the first urologist was dr. Shukri Hoxha, and since 1969, he specialized in urology in Zagreb. I have been the second urologist since 1973, specializing, and the third specialist in urology was Dr. Bujar Bukoshi. In 1977, I successfully completed the Urology specialization as well as post-graduate studies in the field of Epidemiology of non-infectious diseases in preparation for the master’s and doctorate. I defended my doctorate in 1986 at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Pristina with the title “Contribution to the etiology of nephrolithiasis – Clinical-epidemiological study in the region of Kosova”, and advanced to the rank of doctor of medical sciences. In 1987, I was promoted in the educational framework, docent for the subject of surgery.
To begin with, we only had 13 beds in the Urology clinic. After 1973, we expanded to 23 beds, and even today the Urology clinic has those beds. When the Gynecology clinic moved to a new clinic, the Internal Medicine clinic, the ENT clinic and the Eye clinic also moved to new clinics, Surgery was spread over the entire old building, so unfortunately this building did not meet the requirements contemporary and did not meet the needs of Surgery clinics. Since then, it did not meet the most basic conditions, and unfortunately, even today, those same spaces remain of the General Surgery, even though we can say that it has obviously been worked on. I want to emphasize that even in those existing cadres in Urology, maximum work has been done. The most contemporary interventions of that time were also worked on, especially from the 1980s onwards, until the 1990s, when the repression and supervision of the Serbs over our clinics began.
Regarding the development of the health system, Prof. Dr. Bytyçi said that the development of medicine in general, especially in the Faculty of Medicine, was not at the right level and investments were not given as needed, even less for surgical branches and modern tools and equipment. Development policies have not been good. They have gone strictly without proper development planning. However, the fact that from the beginning of 1974 until 1990, the development of the educational framework has been at the right level, should not be ignored. Educational staff have been given the opportunity to be educated in various developed countries and centers in Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Sarajevo and Skopje, but also in eminent centers abroad, where our staff have completed their specializations and postgraduate studies, master’s degrees and the doctorate, which was very important for the development of the educational cadre. I also want to emphasize that the first generation of doctors from the Faculty of Medicine in Pristina completed their studies in 1974. The best doctors at the level of high grades have been admitted to our surgery clinics. Also, new staff have been accepted in the Urology clinic. Since the 80s, there have been ideas to form the Experimental Surgery Unit within the Surgery Clinic, but since then and until today, this idea has fallen on deaf ears among leading people. I emphasize that I was ready to accept the leadership of this experimental surgery unit, but that there was no will or understanding. Likewise, the achievement of scientific values in surgery has been done especially in Experimental surgery, which is the main basis in scientific research, especially in surgery and other branches of medicine.
However, according to him, even in those conditions, very complicated and heavy urological works of various types of contemporary interventions were performed. For the first time, radical prostatectomy was performed for prostate cancer. Then, in May 1990, at the Urology Clinic, the most severe and highly mutilating intervention of radical cystoprostatectomy, with formation of a continent ileal bladder, was performed for the first time, according to Hautman’s modification. This type of surgery was performed for the first time in Germany in 1987, and in our urological clinic, it was performed in 1990, while the same patient lived 25 years after the surgical intervention. It should be noted that Endoscopy has also been performed regularly since 1979 – TUR of prostate and bladder tumors, as well as all types of hypospadias.
At the same time, in this interview, he also talked about the hardest time of his career. He emphasized that the most difficult time for the entire medical staff of Kosova was September 1990, when all the Albanian educational staff were expelled from our existing clinics by the Serbs. The entire surgical team was dispersed in different directions. Private surgical clinics were established in Pristina, in Prizren, and in other cities of Kosova. Since 1990, I was in Prizren and I opened my private clinic “Uropriz”, because sophisticated interventions were also carried out there, and I worked there until the end of the war in June 1999. During this time, the teaching process of the Faculty of Medicine was also held in the private house. After the war ended, all the medical staff returned to work in our clinics. The 10-year period of the expulsion of the Albanian staff from the clinics has left behind the development of contemporary medicine, at least for 50 years of the overall development of achievements.
But with the return of medical staff in clinics, according to Prof. Dr. Bytyçi, who says with regret, that the existing clinics began to be filled with medical personnel with party preferences. Many, many other medical staff were accepted without any criteria, which unfortunately still exist today. For example, there are 23 beds in Urology, but 22 or 23 urologists are accepted. There is only one operating room, which is an absurdity of the time, and the main burden was carried only by some of the medical staff. I want to emphasize one more fact, that at that time some of the successful doctors were prepared for educational framework /cadres with doctorates, but even today, 17 years later, no educational cadre is chosen. Even that I retired on January 5, 2006, in the Urology clinic, and that there is still no professor. The educational flow and operation goes with authorizations. The reason is the Department of Surgery, the Deanship and the Rectorate of the University of Pristina, that for these years they have not been able to provide the educational cadre, and that is a mistake that cannot be forgiven for negligence, or the tendentious intention, which has hindered the adequate development of the educational cadre in the Urology clinic, as well as in other clinics.
The truth, according to Prof. Dr. Bytyçi, was that the selection of the educational cadre has been hindered at all costs by the Surgical Clinics themselves, the Dean’s Office and separately by the Rectorate of the University of Pristina. Therefore, it is high time to change and take reasonable directions for the development of surgery clinics in general.
As for the clinical work, he added that I can freely say that it has been worked with dedication since the 80s, even further, where all types of classic interventions with open access have been performed. It should be noted that at that time we had only 3-4 anesthesiologists. In the Urology clinic, the interventions are mainly performed with epidural anesthesia, because during my stay in Zagreb, I perfected epidural anesthesia. This method has also been applied in orthopedics. At that time, general anesthesia was given by anesthesia technicians, who had good experience and were obviously successful. As for scientific works, so far I have 110 professional and scientific works from the field of urology and surgery, published in professional journals of that time.
I emphasize that Prof. Dr. Gazmend Shaqiri, the doyen of Kosova Surgery, has always supported all the surgeons and me, especially in delicate urological interventions. Without hesitation, he has always come to the rescue and has done so since the 80s, but also after the war until I and the others retired.
Investments in this sector, as said by Prof. Dr. Bytyçi, are the most necessary. For Kosovar medicine, especially for surgical branches, sufficient material investments are needed to aim for a modern medicine. Now, it is more than necessary to create new clinics, with new spaces built with sufficient capacities, and especially with sufficient operating rooms as in the civilized world. It is high time, according to him, that Robots should be provided in Surgery clinics, especially in Urology, because in modern Urology as a whole, the approach to surgical interventions of the past has changed, which mostly take the form of manual or robotic laparoscopic interventions.
For these types of micro-invasive interventions, the framework for sophisticated work of this type must be prepared in advance, and that the Government must do their best to provide these means for the purchase of these devices.
However, at the end, he says with great pride that during his work as a urologist, he has trained and left 12 urology specialists, who have continued to successfully lead the development of urology and some of them continue to lead the Urology clinic.
The Profile of Prof. Dr. Xhemil Bytyçi:
Xhemil Bytyçi was born in Billushe, Prizren, on January 5, 1941. He completed his primary and secondary education in Prizren, while he completed the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Belgrade in 1968. At the same time, he graduated in the Department of Dentistry, of this University. Dr. Xhemili started to deal with literary writing when he was a high school student. Since then he had started writing poems, stories and plays. During his studies, he was active in the literary and musical group of the then well-known Association of Albanian Students of the University of Belgrade named “Perpjekja”. After graduating from the faculty, he started teaching at the High School of Medicine in Prizren. In 1973, he started working at the Urology Clinic of the University of Pristina. He specialized in urology at “Rebro” Hospital in Zagreb. In 1986, he defended his doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Pristina with the title “Contribution to the etiology of nephrolithiasis – a clinical-epidemiological study in the region of Kosova” and advanced to the rank of doctor of medical science. Prof. dr. Xhemil Bytyçi was for many years a regular lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Pristina with the highest rank – full professor. Prof. dr. Xhemil Bytyçi is one of the most popular urologists in Kosovo. He’s very successful in pedagogical, scientific and clinical work. He has participated in many national and international congresses, seminars and scientific symposia. He has published over 110 articles, reports, studies and works in specialized professional journals in the field of urology and surgery. He worked in this medical and educational institution until his retirement in 2006. Even after his retirement, he continued to perform with full ethical and professional competence the work of a specialist-urologist at the private clinic “Uropriz” in Prizren and still continues his work as a professor of urology at the private hospital “Aloka” and at the Special Urological Hospital “Vita – Hospital” in Pristina.
As for my literary creativity, I started writing as a high school student. So far, he has published 34 literary works, especially poems, haiku poems of the Japanese genre, but also drama.