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In Memoriam: Dr Riccardo Saccardi

February 29, 2024 | News

We are deeply saddened to hear Dr Riccardo Saccardi passed away on Monday 19th February 2024 in Italy after a battle with cancer.

Dr Saccardi was a haematologist and the Director of Cellular Therapies and Transfusion Medicine at Careggi University Hospital in Florence, Italy. He was involved with autologous haematopoietic stem cell transplant (aHSCT) for over 20 years with a particular interest in MS, cell manipulation for transplantation and the banking of umbilical cord blood stem cells. He served as Chair for 6 years (2004-2010) of the Autoimmune Diseases Working Party (ADWP) of the European Bone Marrow Transplant (EBMT), a non-profit medical and scientific organisation established in 1974 which hosts a unique patient registry providing a pool of data to perform studies and assess new trends. He was also Medical Director of the Joint Accreditation Committee ISCT-Europe & EBMT (JACIE) from 2016-2020 establishing, promoting, monitoring and accrediting standards of excellence in transplant and cellular therapy.

At Multiple Sclerosis NZ we owe a huge debt to Dr Saccardi, whose visit in 2017 was the turning point for many in their knowledge, understanding and attitudes towards aHSCT. During his time here he spoke both to the MS patient communities in Christchurch and Auckland as well as visiting neurologists and haematologists in Auckland.  After his visit here we now have an MS Neurologists aHSCT Review Committee, criteria for access, and the first successful MS aHSCT delivered in Auckland in 2023.

Dr Saccardi continued to provide advice and support to Multiple Sclerosis NZ over the years following his visit, regarding the progress internationally with aHSCT along with guidance during the Covid Pandemic.

His dedication to the MS community will not be forgotten and we want to celebrate his life and contributions.

All of us at Multiple Sclerosis New Zealand extend our heartfelt condolences to Dr Saccardi’s wife Claudia, his family, friends and colleagues at Careggi Hospital in Florence during this sad and difficult time.