Neurosurgeon András Csókay, head of the Hungarian medical team separating Bangladeshi Siamese twins, received the 2019 Award for Civic Hungary. The award was presented on Monday in Budapest by Dalma Mádl, widow of former President of Hungary Ferenc Mádl, and Zoltán Balog, President of the Foundation for a Civic Hungary (PMA).
László Kövér, Speaker of the National Assembly, praised the winner, saying that “András Csókay’s medical creed is that the doctor only treats while God heals,” adding that “his deep faith, humanity, and professional performance remind us of that civic virtue, (…) that a job well done is a prayer.”
According to Kövér, András Csókay’s life demonstrates that in the 21st century, “…it is possible to live the way we think and to think in a way that we serve God, our country, and our fellow human beings with it.”
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András Csókay obtained his medical degree in 1989, and “since then he has been treating his patients with relentlessness.” He started working at the National Institute of Neurosurgery, from where he continued his work at the National Emergency Institute, and then worked for five years at the Neurosurgery Department of the Markusovszky Hospital in Szombathely. Later, he worked in the neurosurgery department of St. János Hospital, and from 2010 he worked in neurosurgery at Miskolc Hospital. In 2013, he continued his career at the Honvéd Hospital as the chief medical officer of the Neurosurgery Department of the Health Center of the Hungarian Defense.
The Speaker continued by saying that the results of Csókay’s research have earned him professional prestige and recognition around the world, adding that he is most well-known for his vascular tunnel technique, a new method he perfected in 1998 for treating severe traumatic brain swelling.
Kövér also added that the doctor’s foundation helps people who, because of their health or financial condition, can do little or nothing for themselves. Csókay and the team of the Action for Defenceless People Foundation perform free surgeries in Hungary and abroad, provide medical equipment, special hospital furniture, rehabilitation equipment, and travel to the poorest areas during their foreign missions to help.
The foundation has changed the lives of thousands of people, including Siamese twins in Bangladesh. As a result of a fully Hungarian-designed and executed four-stage surgery series, both members of the twins are currently in stable condition. The twins were separated thanks to the hard work of a Hungarian medical team with 33 teammembers, including plastic surgeons, neurosurgeons and other medical staff. The surgeries were organized by the Action for Defenceless People Foundation and the foundation also provided funds for the complete travel and accommodation expenses, the logistics of the staff, as well as their full supply in Bangladesh.
The first phase of Operation Freedom, including groundbreaking work to separate the blood flow of the brains, was conducted by a Hungarian team led by István Hudák in Bangladesh in August 2018. Later, a marathon operation in Dhaka was carried out by a team of 35 Hungarian doctors and assistants led by András Csókay from Budapest’s Honvéd Hospital.
Zoltán Balog, president of the PMA, said in his greeting that “there are many ways to heal, with medicine and scalpel, hospital intervention, but true healing is always a spiritual issue.” He recalled the special moment of using the Internet to convey the prayers of hundreds of thousands during the surgeries in Bangladesh.
Zoltán Balog explained: “The Board of Trustees of the Foundatian awarded the 2019 Award for a Civic Hungary to András Csókay for his exemplary work in medicine, volunteering to save lives, protecting the health of the fallen and vulnerable, and because with his medical and public activities, he strengthens the spiritual well-being of Hungarians.”
András Csókay, expressing thanks for the recognition, emphasized that he did not deserve the award alone, that it was the work of a whole team. He said his faith inspires him every day, and he also thanked his wife and colleagues for their help.
The award recognizes a life of civic service and is given for work that strengthens and creates communities through scientific, public, artistic, charitable activities, thereby also enriching Hungary, Hungarians, and their credibility within the European Community and effectively promotes and characterizes the civil-Christian-national communities.
The first recipient was Dalma Mádl in 2006, followed by the creators of the House of Terror Museum: Mária Schmidt, Attila F. Kovács, and Ákos Kovács, as well as initiatives and communities such as the Peace March, the Trans-carpathian Church Volunteer Firefighters of Dercen, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and the National Association of Large Families.
The separation of the Bangladeshi Siamese twins was also recognized at this year’s Highlights of Hungary Awards, where the series of surgeries led by Csókay was voted the best inspirational story of 2019.
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The independent initiative gathers Hungary’s most inspirational stories into a creative collection on a professional basis but without the boundaries of categories. The aim of the initiative is “highlighting, inspiring curiosity, and bringing people together– curators, candidates, business and media partners, audiences – to start further collaborations.”