May 23, 2024

Westside People

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In Romania, a children’s hospital was created thanks to donations

In Romania, a children’s hospital was created thanks to donations

Eric, 15 months, suffering from a brain tumor, walks through brightly colored corridors: a new children’s hospital has opened in Romania, funded exclusively by private donations in a country with a dilapidated medical sector.

When the first little patients arrived in April at this impeccable location, whose property has now been handed over to the government, Ona Georgiou had to pinch herself to believe it.

At the beginning of the project born in 2015 in Bucharest, this co-founder of the association Daruieste Viata (Give Life) would never have doubted the wave of sympathy his call would generate.

“We have very little trust in each other,” he told AFP. “But ultimately, Romanians need causes they care about.”

Nearly 8,000 companies and 350,000 individuals – including American heavy metal group Metallica – paid tithes for a total of 53 million euros.

Twenty million comes from micro-donations of between two and four euros via SMS. It’s proof that “anything is possible,” says his partner, Carmen Uscatu.

“Blow to Politicians”

Faced with government failures, these two economics graduates saw the plight of sick children and decided to take matters into their own hands: the cancer survival rate is one of the lowest in the EU (70% compared to an average of 81%).

The NGO, which saw twelve health ministers pass without change, points to a “combination of incompetence, lack of vision and corruption”.

According to actor and musician Tudor Cyrilla, one of the donors, the unprecedented initiative was “a slap in the face to politicians who did nothing”.

After the fall of communism in 1989, Romania allowed its hospitals to gradually deteriorate. Most of the buildings were built before 1970 and “no longer meet standards”, according to a recent report by the Court of Auditors.

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Despite the strong growth, according to the latest figures from Eurostat, the country has one of the lowest per capita health expenditure rates in the European Union (713 euros). More than 15,000 people have migrated since joining the Union in 2007.

Built on the grounds of a general hospital, the modern nine-storey gray and yellow establishment stands out in the landscape. In a heated setting, it has 140 beds and offers oncology, surgery and intensive care services.

Playrooms, cinema, astronomical observatory on the roof: everything is done to make the daily life of young patients easier.

“Like Home”

Little Eric, who is undergoing chemotherapy for neuroblastoma, one of the most common childhood cancers, runs around the building wearing Mickey Mouse pants.

On the floor, a yellow sticker encourages him to “dance,” as he trembles and escapes from his mother’s arms.

After two months in a nearby dilapidated unit, Ildis Ivan, 41, welcomes the “radical change” of decor. “If I ignore the presence of doctors and nurses, I feel like I’m at home,” she says.

The medical field is also happy. “Our relationship with patients is different”, more peaceful, hematologist Madalina Schmidt, who lived 400 km away, moved to Bucharest for the opportunity to work in such conditions.

The association, while keeping an eye on hospital management, now hopes to raise funds to continue its work and build a real medical complex.

“We can’t stop there,” says Carmen Uscadu, who dreams of profoundly changing the system. So that parents of sick children do not go abroad for treatment, “as our politicians always do”.

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