21 September 2007
Gorbachev Opens New Hospital
By Irina Titova
A new children’s hospital dedicated to the memory of the late wife of Mikhail Gorbachev was opened by the former president of the Soviet Union himself in St. Petersburg on Thursday.
The Raisa Gorbachev Center for Children Hematology and Transplantology will treat children with certain forms of cancers such as leukemia.
“The families who have children suffering leukemia are in a particularly hard situation. This illness requires high professionalism and a lot of money,” Gorbachev said at the opening ceremony.
Raisa Gorbachev, who during her lifetime campaigned for child cancer treatments, herself died of leukemia eight years ago to the day Thursday, on Sept. 20, 1999, in a German clinic.
Former President Gorbachev thanked all people and organizations, including those from Germany and America, who provided financial support to the construction of the center.
Sergei Mironov, head of the Russian Federation Council, said that “the Institute has become the best monument to Gorbachyova,” using the Russian form of her name.
Nikolai Yaitsky, head of the St. Petersburg Pavlov Medical University that the center is allied to, said many parents and their children have been waiting for such center to be built.
“At the moment, the waiting list of patients is already registered for up to six months ahead,” Yaitsky said.
Gorbachev in his turn promised that his Gorbachev Fund will continue its support to the center.
“Leukemia treatment is very expensive, and most parents just can’t afford to do it by themselves,” Gorbachev said.
The center may also gather an international forum of hematologists to discuss the problems of blood-related diseases, Gorbachev suggested.
Meanwhile, one of the biggest tasks of the new center is to provide expensive transplant operations for ill children.
The center is to have close coordination with a world bank of donors.
Experts say 70 percent of people who suffer leukemia who need transplants don’t have a family member matching as a donor. Therefore, the database of 12 million donors living in Central Europe and North America will be very helpful for the new center, they say.
Leonid Roshal, a famed Russian pediatrician, said that the state needs to focus on child health.
“This center is only one drop of what’s needed for Russian children but I wish there would be more ‘drops’ like this all over the country,” Roshal said, adding that Moscow’s Children Cancer Center has been under construction for 20 years and is still not completed.
The Raisa Gorbachev Center’s new blue glass, 12-story building is intended to treat leukemia for all children living in the North-West of Russia.
Currently about 100 children and teenagers underthe age of 15 suffer from leukemia each year in St. Petersburg.
In Russia as a whole, before the age of 18, 5,000 new cases of leukemia are registered every year.
The new 5,500 square-meter center is equipped with the most modern medical and engineering equipment.
The institute includes a polyclinic, hospital, transfusion department; children’s wards with a sterile climate located on four stories of the building; school classes and computer classes, a play room, and an art therapy room.
Construction of the institute began in 2002. The project also received the support of the Russian federal authorities, and in 2005 the government began to provide the basic financing of the project.