A PLANE carrying 16 Ukrainian children with cancer to Spain for continued specialist treatment is on its way to Barcelona.

It’s a second rescue mission organised by the Spanish Society of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology (SEHOP) and Fundacion Aladina with the support of the Ministries of Health and Defence.

Hospitals across Ukraine haven’t been spared in Russia’s bombing campaign. 

Medical teams have struggled to provide care for their patients under the most dangerous conditions but, with the situation deteriorating further, a desperate decision was made to evacuate children with cancer from Ukrainian cities and send them and their families across the border to Poland. 

With the hospitals in Poland at breaking point an emergency alert was sent through SIOPE, the European network of childhood cancer professionals, requesting urgent help.

 Within days Spain had committed to taking up to 100 children and their families. 

When a request was made to Defence Minister Margarita Robles for the use of a military plane, it was authorised in just 30 minutes.

 The first 30 children arrived at the military airbase Torrejon de Ardoz just outside Madrid on March 11 and are now receiving treatment from paediatric cancer teams at the capital’s La Paz, Niño Jesus, 12 de Octubre and Gregorio Marañon hospitals.

The new arrivals will be treated by specialist teams at hospitals in Barcelona. It is hoped that further flights will follow with children being accommodated at hospitals in Valencia and Andalucia.

 Speaking to Redaccion Medica, Ana Fernandez-Teijeiro Alvarez, president of SEHOP and head of  Pediatric Onco-Hematology at the Hospital Universitario Virgen Macarena in Seville, explains that the Ukrainian children “will be incorporated into the Spanish health system and will have the same treatment and follow-up as Spanish children”.

It is an extraordinarily swift response which has involved the collaboration of hundreds of people – not just medical professionals in hospitals across Spain, but logistical support from US-based St Jude Global, an association specialising in childhood cancer care in third world and crisis conditions, the companies providing specially equipped ground transportation, interpreters, and Spanish associations including La Federación de Padres de Niños con Cáncer, Pablo Ugarte, Fundación Josep Carreras, El Sueño de Vicky, Unoentrecienmil, Juegaterapia, Fundación Villavecchia and Cris contra el Cáncer who will be accommodating and looking after the families.

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