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Looking Back on 2013

Dear friends,

As we bid 2013 farewell, we would like to tell you what we’ve been able to accomplish in it thanks to your help, which is to say a great deal. As per tradition, the year began with a charity evening and auction, during which we gathered £330,000 in aid of children in Russian hospitals.

These funds were used to purchase Erwinase, a vital medicine for 15 children with lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Nastya Kvitinskaya, Diana Zharikova, Alina Kozlova, Polina Dracheva, Kseniya Gnatenko, Veronika Mikhailova, Sasha Rodaikin, Maxim Chuvilin, Maxim Zakharov and Yegor Abashidze.  Erwinase is the only medicine capable of saving children who develop an allergy to the chemotherapy used in Russia. However, it is not registered in Russia, and therefore not paid for by the government. The Podari Zhizn and Gift of Life foundations bring it in from the UK for children in every corner of Russia.

Four-year old Diana Zharikova from the small town of Kashir is one of the girls for whom we bought Erwinase with your help. She was ill from the very day of her birth, and as a result her favourite game has been playing doctor. At half a year of age, she was diagnosed with lymphoma. The diagnosis was followed by two years of the harshest treatment, then a year’s break, then a relapse. Diana was taken in for treatment at the Moscow Centre for Children’s Haematology. It soon emerged that she had a strong allergy to conventional therapy. Interruption of treatment was unacceptable, so Diana urgently needed Erwinase.

The money you donated was used to buy three packs. The medicine helped, and Diana went into remission. Then, in order to safeguard these results, that summer she received a bone marrow transplant. The donor cells have been accepted, and Diana is now feeling well. We are very happy for her, and very grateful to everyone who helped her.

In total, Gift of Life has helped over 50 Russian children this year. In addition to Erwinase, we also bought other medicines which cannot be obtained in Russia. For example, We bought Lysodren for Zhenya Veprintseva, a five-year old girl who lives near Samara. Zhenya has adrenal cancer. Even in the face of a terrible illness and very challenging treatment, Zhenya is never less than optimistic. In hospital, she is quick to get to know other children and make new friends. With your help, we’ve bought her 6 packs of Lizodren, a medicine which helps her keep the disease under control. In all likelihood, Zhenya will need it again in time, and we are confident that help will come to her then as well.

In 2013, the funds gathered by Gift of Life have been used to buy Methotrexate for Vanya Kutuzov from the Samara Children’s Hospital, Adcetris for Katya Lipkina, Konstantin Ozhiganov and Anton Zhadunov, and Alkeran and Cytosar for 27 children in Russian hospitals.

Furthermore, with your help we have paid for three visits by Professor Ingo Melcher from Germany to the Moscow Centre for Children’s Haematology. This renowned surgeon from Humboldt Univesity’s Charite Campus Virchow is a master of non-traumatic bone surgery techniques capable of restoring cancer-impaired limbs. His operations allow patients to avoid amputation and maintain a high quality of life. Given the fact that all of Prof. Melcher’s patients are children or young adults, it becomes apparent just how important and life-changing these operations are. In addition, it is much cheaper to conduct them in Russia than in Germany, especially considering that Prof. Melcher is not only operating on Russian children, but also teaching unique surgical methods to Russian doctors.

In 2013, Prof. Melcher performed surgery on four patients: Ruslan Amshokov, Alexandr Kozitsin, Roma Plisenko and Yekaterina Bakhteeva. Yekaterina, or Katya, is an 18-year old girl  suffering from Ewing’s sarcoma of the right ilium. Thanks to the unique operation, Katya has been able to keep all her vital organs. The surgery was a success, and after a swift recovery she has already begun moving around on her own. Right now Katya’s treatment is continuing, and we wish her a complete recovery.

All of the above was only made possible by your help. We are very glad for your support of us and the children in our care. Thank you for being with us this year, and for staying with us in the coming one.

Dear friends, we wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. May you and your loved ones be happy, healthy, and successful in all your endeavours. May all your wishes come true, and may your life be full of joyful miracles.

Yours gratefully,

Gift of Life