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Children forgive you even if you don't care about their lives

October 23, 2006, 0:00 2826 Author: Yaroslava Tankova (translated to English for www.deti.zp.ua by Dasha Sukach) "Komsomolskaya Pravda", Russia

The sick kids in the Russian Child's Clinic Hospital (RCCH) need blood donors. Please help immediately!

See www.deti.msk.ru website.

Outside the RCCH a woman smokes and cries. There's no reason to ask why. Most children who get into the RCCH have mortal illnesses. Another crying woman on the phone in the coat room asks to be connected with the Russian city of Samara. She hardly has any good news for her relatives.

But in the ward there is a mural of a fairy-tale tree with cherries, bananas, and apples together… it's the realization of a miracle which is waiting for the children.

The children who are forbidden to play.

The children staying there have blood cancer. They can't run and jump. Because without medicine even usual scratches don't heal - they don't have enough platelets. Kids can leave the ward only with gauze bandages. Any infection can be a fatal - there are no leucocytes.

The only way to rescue these children is with a bone marrow transplant and hundreds liters of donors' blood. Anyone can donate the necessary platelets. But there are very few who want to. Almost all doctors and nurses who have listened to the children's pleas are donors. But it's not enough. The little blood that is donated is given to the most sick. But the rest of the patients are in constant fear of dying of internal bleeding. Some who are unable to wait for a transfusion die.

The mothers who are forbidden to cry

"If I burst out crying, my dear child will lose courage," one of the moms explains to me. "We have a laundry room where there are washing machines. We all call it 'the unloading.' While a machine washes the clothes, you sit near it on the chair washing away your soul with tears."

In these moments nobody comforts each other. What can you say? "Everything will be okay"? One boy was sent home to die after the doctors exhausted all options. Another died in the terminal ward.

But the the most difficult thing is to explain to the kids why some of their friends went home and will never come back. Mothers usually lie. "He has gotten better," they smile. But these lies give the kids hope. The little patients often tell whom they want to be when they grow up.

Yulia, (11 years old). Vladik (4 years old), Jacob (6 years old)

Eleven-year-old Yulia solves puzzles as her hobby. She can figure out the hardest in just a couple of hours. This small genius is wearing two pigtails, dimples on the cheeks and whatever happens, she simply snuggles with her mom. For her to live, somebody has to give blood every day.

The four-year-old Vladik from Magnitohorsk has been already living here for a year. In pictures, he is a smiling fair-hared boy. But in a bed, he is swollen from constant injections of hormones. He has become a miserable young man. He used to play, hide under the blanket and look out, screaming, "I'm a dragon!" But from that sweet boy in the picture only a tender and twittering voice has remained. In December he had an operation. He will live, but only if he receives enough donor blood.

Six-year-old Jacob has got very black and expressive eyes. When his mother Zahra took him to the hospital he was barely wearing any clothes. At home there are three more children. They don't have a father. The grandfather is only one who works. One night Zahra was woken up by a noise. Jacob was standing at the door. "I'm going to the neighbors. Maybe they have something to eat." Children with his condition need to eat well. But there is no money for that.

Lyova Piryaev is still alive. He needs your help!

Lyova (4 years old)

Everybody calls 4-year-old Lyova from Vorkuta, Russia, an actor because he likes to pretend. He's a smart and clever boy. But his sickness has made him stick-thin and almost bald. His eyes are wide and bright, though. Lyova loves eating herring, but he can't eat it. He is forbidden because of his illness. His mother eats it often because it's one of the few foods she can afford. But when she eats it he asks, "can I at least smell it?"

Yulia has got four children. Her husband left her as soon as he found out that their son was ill. The youngest daughter is two months old. Yulia doesn't have any money at all, though Lyova has fresh food to eat. Sadly, any germs can be fatal to him. Even juice can harm him if drunk a half-hour after opening. He needs antibacterial towels to wash with (standard ones harbor too many bacteria). It's impossible for Yulia to buy the super expensive antifungal medicines Lyova needs. But the most important thing is blood. For Lyova to continue living he needs one donor every day.

"Mom, when I recover, will you buy me a huge herring?" Lyova asks dreamily.

"Of course! I will buy a big barrel of them! Recover soon, okay?" his mother replies cheerfully. She's told almost every day that her little boy is running a fever.

Vadik (2 years old), Igor (11 years old)

Two-year-old Vadik Markunin has got enormous chocolate eyes, flaxen hair and a doll face. But he's got big bruises under his eyes. "Every morning he wakes up with black eyes," his mother sighs. He has no platelets, so even if he sleeps with his hand under his face, a new hematoma can form.

"It's not so bad," says 11-year-old Igor. "One day I got binoculars as a present and, when I was looking in it, somebody touched me gently. The doctor was scared to death. I've got two bruises that make me look like a panda."

Children here laugh to keep from crying. But these bruises mean that at any moment a cheerful Igor, tender Vadik, shy Yulia, smart Lyova, twittering Vladik, goggle-eyed Jacob and dozens of other children can die.

But they can also love.

Do you know what they say when they regain consciousness after painful operations? "Mommy, I love you so much!" Loving is the one thing these children can do, and do well. They love mommy, their kind doctors, their stuffed mouse, the people who donate blood so that their hearts will continue to beat. These small hearts have enough love to forgive everybody. Even those who read this and say, "what can I do?" or discard this paper so they don't have to think about it anymore. Even those who won't help because they are afraid of giving blood. Even those who refuse, saying they have no time.

Children will forgive and love you even if you don't care about their lives. If later they are asked if they blame you for your heartlessness, their love will be enough to keep silent. But remember that mural of a tree with cherries and bananas? Make a miracle! Spend some of your time and give any of these children a whole day of life!

Addendum: While writing this article, I was called by the hospital and told that Yulia died. Her gift for puzzle solving has been lost forever, but other gifted children can be helped. Please give of your hearts and help in any way you can.

IF YOU WANT TO HELP:

We are waiting for phone calls from donors by telephone at 8-903-662-6044 (international call to Russia). You may also contact us by email at chistykova [at] ecopolicy.ru.

And one more thing, could someone give an iron to the children's ward? The old one has broken and mothers can't iron the bed-sheets.

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