Zora Janžekovič’s dedication was a global success.
The lifework of Dr. Zora Janžekovič saved lives of thousands of burns victims. Early excision and immediate grafting of burns was Zora Janžekovič’s biggest contribution to the surgical therapy. Towards the end of the 20th century, her resolve and innovation became the worldwide standard in the treatment of deep dermal burn wounds. This very successful woman and medical doctor passed away in the stillness of the night, on the 17th of March, 2015.
Apart from her professional achievements as a doctor, Zora Janžekovič will be remembered for her hearty and affectionate laughter. She lived her entire life in the surroundings of the Slovenian city of Maribor in Central Europe, where the hospital was the heart of her work. She lived through a lot of history, from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second World War, from Communist rule in Yugoslavia to the conception of the independent Slovenia and its entry to the European Union. She was not political, but she had a keen interest in and was a precise observer of society. Her observations were not always received with acclaim.
Amongst all the commotion, hardships and happiness of living in such momentous times, Dr. Janžekovič devoted herself to her work, and steadily maintained that to be a doctor, one’s purpose is to be there for the care and recovery of one’s patients.
Zora was devoted to that purposeful path, and a worldwide success followed. Between 1968 and 1984, numerous internationally renowned burns surgeons found their way to the otherwise unknown Maribor to learn about her methods and apply them. Step by step she worked her way through adversity and experiences in the hospital in Maribor.
Of the many honours and tributes, which eventually were bestowed upon her, she observed laconically and sincerely: “I am pleased of course”. The fact that the first ever Zora Janžekovič Award, “The Golden Razor” of the European Club for Paediatric Burns, was awarded to her (Seggau/Leibnitz, Austria, 2007) and that through this Award her name and achievements will live on through many future recipients, was a source of great pride and delight to her.
Anyone seeing Zora Janžekovič sitting in a chair on the patio of her retirement-home on the south face of the Pohorje Mountains, anyone talking to her there, would sense that Zora had achieved something else which was more subtle after such a stormy life. Zora Janžekovič had managed to make peace with herself, as she explained several times in her autobiography (ZORA JANŽEKOVIČ Getting to the Top of the Burn Surgery with a Razor by Marija Trop / Clemens Schiestl).
During the celebration of her 90th birthday she spoke her parting words to her friends and colleagues: “At 90 years old I can say: My life was worth having been lived.”
It ended on the 17th March, 2015. The value of her life and work will resonate and enlighten for many years to come.
Univ. Professor Marija Trop, M.D.
Founder and former Head, Paediatric Burns Unit
University of Graz