The Vascular Malformations Center of the Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc in Brussels celebrated its 25th anniversary on Saturday, September 17, 2016. An interesting program during the day, chaired by Prof. Laurence Boon, was followed by a festive dinner and a dance evening. The whole day took place in the elegant atmosphere of the Scandinavian School of Brussels in Waterloo. Many doctors (many of whom are closely involved in the development of the Centre), patients and their families participated in the day.
The day started with a session dedicated to doctors. Several scientists and physicians shared presentations on the treatment of vascular abnormalities and the latest developments in the field, followed by a discussion on various clinical cases.
In the afternoon, several patients testified about their lives with a vascular malformation. The value of the Centre could not be better illustrated. One young woman spoke of the detrimental impact of the disease on her childhood, making her feel isolated, alone and depressed. Treatment at the Centre has restored her to a normal and happy life. Two young girls told how they met through VASCAPA, the patient association, and the importance of having someone to talk to, someone who understands the difference, the difficulties encountered when one is affected by a vascular anomaly. One father talked about the long search for a clinic capable of treating his young son. He finally found the Center where his little boy benefited from a treatment that greatly improved his health. The father is now an active member of VASCAPA and helps other patients and their parents.
Patients and their families were informed of the latest developments in the treatment of vascular abnormalities by Prof. Boon. She emphasized the importance of research into the disease which has led to great advances in treatment. The Centre has contributed to these advances through its research activities which take place at the Duve Institute. The day program was closed with some reflections by representatives of rare disease organizations on how rare diseases such as severe vascular abnormalities are managed.
A delicious dinner and a pleasant evening dance marked the end of a memorable day.
The Center for Vascular Malformations was founded in 1991 by Professor Romain Vanwijck. He created a multidisciplinary clinic, dedicated to the care of patients with vascular abnormalities, who were then often referred from one doctor to another. In 25 years, the Center has become a renowned clinic, attracting patients from all over Belgium as well as from many other countries. Nearly 2000 consultations are carried out each year.
Vascular abnormalities, better known as angiomas, are malformations or tumors of capillaries, veins, arteries and lymphatic vessels that can occur anywhere in the body. Because of the diversity of abnormalities and their effects, treatment requires a multidisciplinary approach. The team at the Vascular Malformations Center offers all the clinical disciplines necessary for patient care, thanks to more than 20 specialists, including dermatologists, pediatricians, surgeons and ophthalmologists. In collaboration with the Human Molecular Genetics Laboratory of the Institut de Duve, the center also conducts research on the molecular and genetic basis of vascular abnormalities. The research aims to improve the understanding of the disease and to develop better curative therapies. The center collaborates with the Vascular Anomalies Center at Children's Hospital of Harvard Medical School in Boston. In addition, it undertakes social initiatives for the benefit of patients and their families. Five years ago, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary, the Center and a number of its patients together founded VASCAPA. The center has also published "Little Peter and the Mysterious Stain", a booklet with answers to the most frequently asked questions of patients and their families.