10 April 1955 – 2 January 2020
The new year has started badly. Fabrizio Fabbrizzi, one of the most respected and beloved stalwarts of the plasma products landscape, passed on 2 January 2020 after a brief struggle with a serious illness. Fabrizio was born in Barga, Tuscany on 10 April 1955 and graduated in medicine and surgery at the University of Pisa in 1981.
He specialised in cardiac and vascular surgery at the University of Bologna between 1982 and 1987, and acquired an additional specialisation in Sports Medicine from the University of Pisa between 1988 and 1991. During these courses of study, he joined the Farma Biagini company, the precursor to Kedrion, in November 1985 and stayed in that organisation for the remainder of his life, occupying a diverse number of roles in the medical affairs area, besides also serving as the company’s doctor and occupational health officer. In addition, Fabrizio, who was very much an internationalist, occupied, over the years, positions in the PPTA’s Immunoglobulin Task Force, the Pathogen Safety Steering Committee and, above all, the Albumin Task Force which he chaired from 2013 until his passing.
I met Fabrizio many years ago, when I was still an Australian government official and we were fellow speakers at the PPTA’s International Plasma Protein Congress (IPPC). On the mantlepiece of his house in Fornaci di Barga, Fabrizio had a photo of myself, Hartwig Gajek and himself at one of these meetings. I have this photo as well somewhere. We look young and energetic. Time passes, and I can honestly say that, whatever the state of Hartwig or myself, Fabrizio’s energy never flagged. He was a “true believer” in the crucial role of plasma products, and, in his long career, was engaged in many issues. But I can safely attest that his lasting passion was in albumin, in which he made many contributions, as Chair of the Albumin Task Force, the organisation of symposia including sessions at the International Symposium on Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (ISICEM) and the support of studies on the clinical use of albumin. Many important clinical trials, including the ALBIOS trial on the use of albumin in sepsis and its role in liver cirrhosis examined in the ANSWER study, were assisted by his enthusiastic contribution and him levering his wide network of key clinical investigators. I can recollect how he and I and Professor Mauro Bernardi, chief investigator of the ANSWER study, celebrated the publication of the trial, which demonstrated an unequivocal benefit when using albumin, over an excellent dinner in 2018. This was only one of many excellent dinners with Fabrizio, who, besides being a skilled cook himself, could always be relied on to source a good restaurant wherever we were.
Which brings me from Fabrizio, the respected and recognised professional, to Fabrizio the man. Truly, Fabrizio was the epitome of goodness in a person. He was idiosyncratic to a degree, had a wide range of interests and was an avid traveller. But above all, Fabrizio was a kind and courteous man, who, once you became his friend, would move heaven and earth to help you in every way he could and in very need you could possibly have. This is what made Fabrizio so loved in our part of the world, his constant kindness and his efforts to use his medical skills to benefit people. I can attest to this freely as twice in this past year he helped me greatly when I was suffering from illness. He gave freely of his time and energy; in his frequent travels, on some of which I accompanied him, he was always meticulous in procuring gifts, even small ones, for people he felt deserved recognition. I would also note that when our mutual colleague Menso Bult died in 2014, Fabrizio journeyed from Italy to Holland for his funeral, an undertaking which was as generous as it was unemulated.
Our sector has lost a shining light. Kedrion has lost a loyal and hardworking soldier. And I have lost the dearest of friends, who I loved and admired very much. And since we shared a love of opera, let me farewell him in the words of La Traviata:
“Finché avrà il ciglio lacrime io piangero' per te
Vola a' beati spiriti; Iddio ti chiama a sé.”
Ciao, caro Fabrizio.
Written by: Albert Farrugia