PUBLIC HEALTH

Barcelona to build Europe’s largest child cancer treatment center

Lionel Messi throws weight behind campaign to raise €60 million for Sant Joan de Déu hospital

Soccer star Lionel Messi is lending his support to a campaign to raise €60 million to build Europe’s leading child cancer hospital at Barcelona’s Hospital Sant Joan de Déu. The #paralosvalientes (for the brave), campaign will see the Argentinean international and FC Barcelona striker work alongside the FC Barcelona Foundation and the IESE business school.

Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona are throwing their weight behind the fundraising campaign.
Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona are throwing their weight behind the fundraising campaign.

“It will cost €30 million to build the hospital and another €30 million to buy the proton [therapy] machine, which reduces side effects in patients,” explained Manel del Castillo, the director of the Sant Joan de Déu hospital, at the launch of the campaign at FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou soccer stadium, an event during which €3 million was raised.

Aside from the €30m required to build the hospital, a further €35m will be needed to run it each year

Messi, who attended the hospital for a growth-hormone treatment after he moved to Barcelona at the age of 13 to play for his side’s youth team, also features in a promotional video to help raise funds around the world.

“For every child cancer that is detected, there are 200 cases in adults. In Spain there are 1,200 cases a year, but it is hard to find funding and we have to rely on philanthropy. This project is the dream of a lot of people, above all, children. It is an unusual disease that affects randomly. That is why we must be ready when it comes,” says Andrés Morales, the oncologist leading the project.

The plan is to double the number of patients that receive treatment at Sant Joan de Déu, which at present is 216. Aside from the €30 million required to build the hospital, a further €35 million will be needed to run it each year.

“This will be done through three financing sources,” says Del Castillo. “The first will be through the public health service, the second through agreements with other countries, and finally, a donor fund will be set up to help children in countries that do not have arrangements with ours.”

He hopes the hospital, which will be the world’s third most important in treating child cancer, will be “a world-class elite facility, but not for the elite,” highlighting the importance of establishing strong international ties.

“Sixty years ago we had virtually no solutions for child cancer cases: today, 80% of children are cured. This percentage could be increased, but we need a center where the talk is about cancer the whole time and all the resources are used to solve problems,” explains Morales, stressing the need to acquire proton machines for a form of cancer treatment which brings with it fewer side effects, especially important for children.

English version by Nick Lyne.

RAISING MONEY FOR THE BRAVE

The #paralosvalientes campaign aims to raise awareness in Spain and around the world about treating child cancer. Barcelona soccer stay Lionel Messi, along with fellow soccer player Xavi Hernández and Spanish basketball stars Pau and Marc Gasol, have thrown their weight behind the fundraising drive to build the new child cancer center. Anybody wishing to contribute can make a bank transfer: ES97 2100 5000 5302 0015 9389, by phone: 902 04 04 04, or by internet: www.paralosvalientes.com and www.fundacio.fcbarcelona.cat Businesses can do so through: paralosvalientes@sjdhospitalbarcelona.org

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