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Visit by Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub to the Children's Oncology Unit

On Tuesday 10 May 2011 renowned heart surgeon and Professor of Cardiothoracic Surgery Sir Magdi Yacoub visited the "Marianna V. Vardinoyannis-Elpida" Children's Oncology Unit, a project he has observed step-by-step from its inception to its realization, since he is a long-time friend of the President of the "ELPIDA" Association of Friends of Children with Cancer, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis and works with her in many international humanitarian organizations and programs.

  Mrs. Vardinoyannis, the Administrative Director of the "Aghia Sophia" Children's Hospital Dr. Emmanouil Papasavvas and members of the "ELPIDA" Association board of directors welcomed Sir Magdi Yacoub and took him on a guided tour of the hospital.   They also had a long talk with him regarding a series of scientific and social issues linked to the operation of the hospital.

  In her brief greeting Mrs. Vardinoyannis also remarked:

"Your visit to the Children's Oncology Unit is a great honor for us since you are one of the most distinguished professors of cardiothoracic surgery in the world but most of all you are the person who gave the gift of life to very many people and especially very many children all over the planet, which is why you know better than anyone else what the fight for life means and how much strength is needed to stand at the side of the children who are suffering and their parents, as a doctor, as a human being and sometimes even as "the hand of God".   We are deeply moved to have you here at our side, an ally and friend in our struggle and in our effort to give sick children the best we can offer.

As an expression of our admiration, respect and deepest gratitude to you, we are today adding a star with your name to our hospital's "Children's Sky" as a permanent reminder to everyone of your extraordinary achievements, your great sensitivity and your solidarity."

  Mrs. Vardinoyannis then presented Sir Magdi Yacoub with a symbolic gift and the "ELPIDA" Association's honorary diploma.   Accepting the gift with deep emotion he thanked Mrs. Vardinoyannis and stated:   "It is a great honor for me to be here and to see your achievements and particularly in our turbulent world where not only children suffer but all of us.   There is great pain which can, however, be dealt with through courageous and noble attempts like yours.   I find the hospital amazing.   It is very beautiful, both as regards its concept – because what Mrs. Vardinoyannis is doing is extraordinary – but also because it is an achievement of the latest technology and has been adapted to the needs of children.   This is the kind of creative thinking that the world, and particularly children, need.   I feel deeply honored to be participating in this grand effort which serves as inspiration to many of us who are trying to do something similar.   The magnitude of this undertaking, the quality, the thinking behind it, the efforts, everything you are doing is so impressive and it is something that will be here for a very long time.   In other words it is not an isolated attempt but something that will "grow" just like the children with whom Mrs. Vardinoyannis and your Association have identified themselves.   Children are the future of our world and it is they who will "carry" your message to future generations.   Mrs. Vardinoyannis and I have always followed a common course, learning from each other, exchanging ideas, and I hope she can come to Aswan soon in order to see the children's wing we have created at the Aswan Hospital, a wing that is almost as beautiful as the one I see here, and to which we gave the name of Mrs. Vardinoyannis because she and the work she does has always been a source of inspiration for us.   We chose Aswan because it is the gateway to Africa, but through our "Chain of Hope" charity where we share common thoughts and visions with Mrs. Vardinoyannis, we will implement similar programs in Ethiopia, Kenya and Mozambique.   I hope that all the efforts being made here are completely successful in the future so that the children undergoing treatment here will be able to face the future with great confidence."

It is worth noting that Sir Magdi Yacoub who holds many degrees, is the founder and director of the "Magdi Yacoub Institute" as well as founder and president of the London-based children's charity "The Chain of Hope".   He has saved the lives of hundreds of children with heart problems in Egypt, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Jamaica, without remuneration and with great sensitivity, for which he was honored with the World Health Organization Prize for Humanitarian Services.   He is also the recipient of many other international honors and awards for his humanitarian services and contribution to science, including a knighthood bestowed on him for his services to medicine by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II in 1991.   He was also elected President of the International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences (2006), received the European Society of Cardiology Gold (2006), the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (2004), etc.