News and events News Thank you for the lives saved! Meet Dasha from Moscow, who’s just celebrated her 19th birthday. Dasha loves reading and needlework and like many teenagers has lots of plans for the future. But in 2017 aged 15 she was diagnosed with a very dangerous illness and is still fighting an extremely difficult case of acute myeloid leukaemia. She’s currently undergoing therapy at the leading juvenile cancer hospital in Russia. Last winter Dasha underwent a second bone marrow transplant and was prescribed a course of the highly effective medicine Defitelio to minimize the risk of veno-occlusive disease and fatal liver damage. Unavailable in Russia and extremely expensive, Dasha’s bespoke treatment plan cost £15,392; at one and half times the average Moscow annual salary an unobtainable sum for Dasha’s family, already beside her in her four-year battle with illness and bringing up two other daughters. Gift of Life has been able to pay for this life-saving medication for Dasha thanks to the generous support of our wonderful donors. Dasha’s treatment continues. Later this month she’s going to have immunosuppressive chemotherapy followed by immunotherapy with infusion of donor NK cells to attack and kill traces of leukaemia cells. In cases like Dasha’s, such treatment increases the chances of finally beating cancer and we hope to see Dasha resuming normal life soon. Dasha sent us a note thanking everyone for their kind help: “My intensive treatment began in November and continues to this day. Nevertheless, I do not give up and try to enjoy every day of my life regardless being locked up at the bone marrow transplant unit or my ward. Every day is a gift for which I’m endlessly thankful to everyone who donated and supported my treatment. Thank you very much!” Dasha is only one of 22 patients that Gift of Life supported in the first six months of 2021 – our 10th year of helping children beat cancer. This year alone, thanks to your support we’ve already spent over £310,000 providing our young patients with life-saving anti-tumour medications, radioactive iodine for MIBG-therapy for neuroblastoma, most-effective antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal medicines to treat various post-transplant complications. These expenses also include a vital surgery in a German clinic for two-year-old Kira F. from Dolgoprudny. In total we’ve helped more than 480 children and young adults since Gift of Life started its operations in the UK. Like Dasha, most of these children received their therapy at the Dmitry Rogachev Centre which has been saving patients with the rarest and most serious oncological and haematological diagnoses for ten years now. Like Gift of Life, the Centre is also celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2021. On World Children’s Day (1 June) some of Russia’s biggest pop starts joined the patients there for a charity pop concert. Great way to mark such an important birthday! The Centre is the most advanced clinic in Russia for paediatric haematology, oncology and immunology, as well as one of the leading medical research institutions in Europe. From early days Gift of Life and our sister charity Podari Zhizn support the Centre and its patients in every way possible. When the centre first opened, Podari Zhizn paid for around £9M worth of most modern equipment and since then has been regularly providing the essential medicines, volunteers support, blood donors, as well as financial and legal aid to patients’ families. Gift of Life plays an essential part in tackling the extremely difficult, life-or-death challenges facing many of the centre’s patients: helping find unrelated donors in international donors’ registries, paying for surgeries conducted by foreign experts, and buying medications otherwise unavailable in Russia. It’s only thanks to the charity’s aid that many patients are provided with the most-effective treatment and have a better chance for recovery. According to Prof. Galina Novichkova, the General Director of the Centre, Gift of Life is truly a miracle for what the charity has done for the centre’s patients: “It’s taken on a burden that’s too heavy for us in Russia. I know without a shadow of a doubt that it’s full of noble-spirited people who give their all to their work, and every donated pound that they gather pays for someone’s life to be saved.” Gift of Life also does a lot to help educational projects for specialists in Russia. The charity regularly sponsors surgeons, haematologists, oncologists and other professionals so they can broaden their knowledge at the most prominent international congresses and conferences, build relationships with foreign colleagues and learn about new technology in medicine. It’s a vital investment in education as it helps the doctors save hundreds of lives in future. “Without this, it wouldn’t matter how big and beautiful we could make our clinic, because we’d never get anywhere”, Prof. Novichkova says as she emphasises the importance of providing ongoing education for health professionals. If you’d like to join us and help children beat cancer, you can make a donation today or take part in our #LifeSavingBirthday campaign by pledging your birthday in our anniversary year. Find out more here.