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The hospital which we would not like to need

14 October 2010 / 10:10:37  GRReporter
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Тhere would be no need for children's cancer hospital in an ideal world. In the real world it is a nightmare for every one - nobody would want to be of those children, mothers and fathers who cross its doorstep. And yet, cancer diseases among children are a fact - every year dozens of children in Greece learn the terrible diagnosis, they fall in the waiting lists for marrow transplants and are struggling with this severe disease. "When I see a child with cancer I never think how much he or she is suffering now. I always imagine how happy and strong he or she will be the day he or she cures and this gives me the power to fight for his or her life," says Marianna Vardinoyannis. She devoted the last 20 years of her life to help kids having the merciless diagnosis: cancer.

Today is a special day for her foundation Elpida (hope - author's note), because a 20-year dream comes true. The first Children's Cancer Hospital in Greece will be opened today and it will be naturally named Marianna Vardinoyannis - Elpida. The hospital is equipped with the most modern medical equipment to treat cancer and is an architectural masterpiece that aims at distracting the young patients from the severe disease and treatment and drawing them into games and adventures. Its founders are convinced that there is no such hospital in Europe and if there is any in the rest of the world they count on the fingers of a hand.

The new hospital is actually a complex of 5 buildings comprising of a clinic for marrow transplants with 18 beds, hematology clinic with 87 beds, a clinic for day treatment of oncological and hematological diseases with 24 beds, a clinic for day treatment of children requiring marrow transplant with 5 beds, pain relief room with 3 beds, room for radio frequency energy therapy with one bed, diagnostic centre Positron Emission Tomography, blood donation centre, medical offices, school, two playgrounds, a hostel for parents suitable to accommodate 36 families and an amphitheatre.

When Marianna Vardinoyannis established the Elpida foundation 20 years ago, marrow transplanting was impossible in Greece. Ill children had to seek opportunities for treatment abroad which was very expensive and many people could not afford it. The first clinic for marrow transplantation in Greece with 9 beds was opened in 1993 with funds of the foundation. Cancer treatment gets affordable to all sick children but the truth is that the needy are beyond the capacity of the clinic. The waiting list usually includes about 30-35 children aged from several months to 21 years. The average stay in the list ranged from 2 to 4 months. The new hospital has twice the capacity of marrow transplantation.

Marianna Vardinoyannis - Elpida is a public hospital and the treatment is free. It will be administratively managed by the Children's Hospital St. Sophia to which there is a tunnel connection. "I will not allow any child to lose his or her life because of government bureaucracy. I and my employees will be close to any sick child and we will fight for his or her life as we have been doing so far," promises Marianna Vardinoyannis. Her foundation will be dealing with psychological support to the ill children and their families and with medical staff training that takes place at Harvard and other American universities. According to the Greek legislation, up to 5 percent of young patients are allowed to come from other countries, mainly from the Balkans and the Mediterranean region. So far the foundation has cured from cancer children from Serbia, Albania, Iran and Jordan.

What will be the next goal of Marianna Vardinoyannis? "I think about it a lot but I'm not yet ready to announce it in public," says the Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO. She does not hide how much the prejudices of the society regarding the sick kids with cancer hurt her. Maybe she will focus her efforts there? The future will tell.

Tags: Marianna VardinoyannisElpida FoundationKitds with cancerSociety
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