Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attends the opening of the Federal Research and Clinical Centre for Children’s Hematology, Oncology and Immunology
1 june 2011
Alexander Rumyantsev (director of the Federal Research and Clinical Centre for Children’s Hematology, Oncology and Immunology): International Children’s Day is a special day for us. Behind me you can see our brainchild. It took us 20 years to translate our dreams into reality and have this centre built. It is an innovative and high-tech medical centre dedicated to providing care to children affected by serious diseases. Our main idea was to study hematology, oncology and immunology as they apply to children from conception to adulthood, because serious disorders that may affect a child later in life tend to develop during the early years of life. Many of these children never make it to adulthood.
This idea was very opportune, because such centres didn’t exist in Russia, Europe, or even the United States. The medical community nurtured this idea for some time before it was seized by the then president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in 2005. It took us six years of hard work in conjunction with our numerous friends and colleagues from the United States, Canada and Europe, primarily Germany, which have been working with us on this matter for 20 long years. Many engineers and architects from Russia and Germany worked to build this innovative centre. It was properly planned and built in an astoundingly short period of 33 months. This centre is now capable of treating seriously ill children.
We are pleased that our friends in Russia, heads of regional pediatric hematology and oncology centres, supported us over all these years. They are in the audience now; they came here to attend the opening ceremony, and we are happy to see them. We also remember our envious detractors and we should thank them too, because they helped us pull ourselves together and do everything on time, as planned. As they say, it’s better to show than tell, so I would like you to watch a short film created by our friends, led by Kirill Nabutov, which will show you the entire process that took us from laying the foundation stone to the present day.
Galina Novichkova (deputy director of the Federal Research and Clinical Centre for Children’s Hematology, Oncology and Immunology): Dear friends, you know that we are celebrating two events today: the completion of the centre and the 20th anniversary of our institute. The institute was established during hard times. Probably, that’s why its life has never been easy. Initially, it was planned as a large research and clinical centre. However, the clinical part was never there. They promised us to build it over many years, even allocated land for construction; then they took it back, repeating this process many times over. Our outstanding doctors and researchers had to leave for work in other countries, but many of them are here today to join in our celebrations. It’s been difficult for us. But then Vladimir Putin came to see a seriously ill boy, Dima Rogachyov, who invited him. He wanted to meet the doctors and discuss the boy’s problems and the issue of treating children in its entirety. He spoke with us, listened to us and heard what we had to say. “We will build you a clinic,” he promised. And here it is for everyone to see.
Mr Putin, we believe that you are more than a guest at this ceremony. This project is your brainchild, too, and you are a true, reliable friend to us and our comrade.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you for your kind words! I am not the author of this idea. I just helped translate it into reality. I clearly remember my first visit here six years ago. At the time, I was invited by a young patient, Dima Rogachyov. After talking to him and to other young patients, their parents, doctors, and specialists, a decision was made to begin construction. After that, a lot of time was wasted on disputes over costs, contractors, and the way work should be organised. Finally, we let the specialists make the decision. And we were right. I’d like to thank you for that.
But these are not the only words of thanks I have today. I want to express my gratitude and bow my head to all the builders, as well as our foreign friends and specialists from the United States, France, and the Federal Republic of Germany. A professor here remarked that the closest professional ties were established with our German colleagues. I may say without any exaggeration that I was truly amazed and delighted at the spirit of generosity with which specialists from different countries, in particular Germany, put their hearts and souls into this project. It was simply remarkable. It reveals professional solidarity that deserves the greatest attention and emulation in other fields, including politics.
I would like to thank the leadership of the Federal Republic of Germany for their contribution to our work. The centre has been financed completely from the Russian federal budget in the amount of 10.8 billion roubles – almost 11 billion. But without the help of these professionals, we would not have been able to accomplish so much.
I am happy to see that the centre is being opened on June 1, the International Children’s Day. I am convinced that the centre is much more than a clinical hospital. It is a major international oncology, hematology and immunology centre for both research and treatment that will provide up to 400 young patients per year with the highest quality medical care. We should take pride not only in the facility and equipment worth 11 billion roubles but above all in medical specialists who work here.
I am proud that we have leading world specialists here. Our Ministry of Healthcare proposed a special training programme for the staff, despite the fact that our medical workers have every opportunity to learn from their foreign colleagues. I am pleased to inform you that 28 of our specialists are now undergoing additional professional training in the Federal Republic of Germany. Another ten specialists will be trained by the end of the year. But the main thing is that the centre is now a living organism.
And, of course, I highly appreciate the efforts of those who, generously giving their time and energy, hearts and souls, came to the aid of children and doctors who used to work in far more modest conditions and without the excellent resources available here. I am speaking about the actress Chulpan Khamatova and all the tireless volunteers who joined her in this noble commitment.
I congratulate all of you. My best wishes to the centre! Thank you very much.
Galina Novichkova: Today, Natasha Rogachyova, Dima’s mother, has come to visit us. We spent several difficult years together. From the very beginning, Dima needed a bone marrow transplant. We were not able to do it as there were no related donors, and we did not do an unrelated donor transplant at that time. Therefore, he did not receive the treatment he needed and now he is gone. But his mother Natasha is here and she would like to say something.
Natalya Rogachyova: Good afternoon. I am happy that the centre has finally been constructed and that children will be treated there and recover. I am glad that my son’s dream to eat crepes with Vladimir Putin has led to this. In 2005, before meeting with Mr Putin, Dima prepared presents: photos and a drawing. Dima drew a very bright hospital with crayons. He was aware that the decision to build the hospital was made after his meeting with Mr Putin. After that, he always asked me and anyone who came to see him about the construction. Now the hospital has been completed, as bright and beautiful as in his drawing, even better. Dima was seriously ill; he needed a bone marrow transplant. We could not find a donor. We searched for a donor for a long time, and time passed by… We finally managed to find a donor and a very complicated transplant was made, but it was already too late and doctors were not able to save Dima. To be more precise, we decided to go to Israel after the transplant but we were clutching at a straw at that point. The foreign doctors were not able to help us either. They did not save Dima, but we, his family, know that we did our best to try to save his life.
Medicine has progressed a lot since then. And there is now a hospital in Russia which is worthy of our big country. The best Russian doctors won’t have to go abroad to find decent work. And children won’t have to go abroad to be saved. The hospital is equipped with the best and most modern medical facilities, and I hope that every child who needs help will receive it and will get well here. It just so happened that it was our son Dima who met with Mr Putin and that the Centre for Children’s Hematology will be named after him. You know, this centre seems to be a tribute to the memory of all the children who fought against the disease but didn’t make it. Unfortunately, children still suffer from grave diseases and the hospital is a hope of salvation for them.
I would like to thank those who stayed close to us for the entire time Dima was at the hospital. These are doctors, first of all. Thanks so much to all the doctors who treated Dima. Many thanks to all the volunteers who did not let Dima get bored or downhearted or think of anything bad. I thank all the philanthropists and donors who helped Dima get the best treatment at that time. And I would like to send my special thanks to Vladimir Putin, who made my son’s dream come true by coming to eat crepes with him. Thank you. That is about all. Thank you all very much.
Galina Novichkova: In the early 1990s, when we learned how to treat childhood cancer, we studied abroad. We discovered that children can be cured and realised that this was necessary but extremely expensive. We saw that no one could do without charity throughout the world so we knocked on every door. Many good people who have helped us over the years are here today. They bought expensive drugs, repaired departments and obtained expensive equipment, but that was not enough as the number of those people was still too small.
In 2004, we were lucky to meet Chulpan and Dina (actresses Chulpan Khamatova and Dina Korzun, founders of the Give Life Foundation) and they changed the established attitude to charity in this country.
We are happy to be on the same team as them. You know, we feel absolutely secure when we can rely on such a remarkable fund.
Girls, say something, please.
Dina Korzun: Good afternoon, friends.
Chulpan Khamatova: Yes, “friends” is the right word because the centre that opened today has allowed a great number of people to make friends with each other. People who would never have met each other in everyday life have met here because of this unique event… Certainly, the construction has no parallels anywhere, especially in our country. Thanks to this event, we all have become one big team, and we have one common cause.
Dina Korzun: This is why we are talking to you, dear friends. Mothers, children, Mr Putin, ministers, our indispensable philanthropists, wonderful volunteers and employees of the fund, we congratulate all of you on the opening of the centre, from the bottom of our hearts.
I would also like to say that there should be three of us here on the stage, naturally. We would like to see our Galochka, Galina Chalikova, standing here with us.
Chulpan Khamatova: She is the director of the Give Life Fund. Surely, everybody knows that she is a unique person with an incredibly pure and kind heart. She is absent as she is not feeling well, but I am sure that she is as happy as we are right now, and maybe even more.
Dina Korzun: And it would be nice to see our reliable and compassionate volunteers and employees, who have waited for the construction over the years, believed in it and assisted in fundraising in order to provide the new centre with the expensive equipment that it was lacking. And we have managed to do this: we have obtained the necessary equipment through our joint efforts.
Chulpan Khamatova: This is great because every centimetre of this space seems to be filled with warmth and kind energy. Someone comes up with an idea, then someone takes it up or makes a project, someone has the right to sign decrees and they sign these decrees. Someone becomes responsible for the construction and its deadline. Someone looks for unique modern equipment or for the funds to buy this equipment, and someone provides the money. Someone comes to wash the windows and the floors every week; someone plants trees and so on. Thus, when you realise that all these things are done with real energy and concern, this energy fills every millimetre of this space. And I am sure that when this energy is channelled into something else, every child who comes to this hospital will get well much sooner.
Dina Korzun: To be honest, sometimes we, and others around us, lost heart because it seemed impossible or extremely difficult to complete such an enormous construction project – a huge project for this country. Everything turned out to be possible, though. Unfortunately, one rarely witnesses such an event in this country. Still, we are filled with happiness every time we think that justice does exist in the world and that common sense prevails over cynicism, indifference and chaos. So I would like to thank everyone involved with the project. Thank you!
Chulpan Khamatova: And a special thanks to our self-sacrificing doctors who are devoted to saving children’s lives as there would have been no fund without them. Thank you!
Dina Korzun: Thank you. Congratulations!
Galina Novichkova: Several days ago, a volunteer artist suggested that the children draw pictures of whatever they wanted, and a little girl, Nastya, drew multicoloured bricks, like this, and the artist asked her: “This isn’t a house, is it?” She said: “Yes, it is.” The artist asked: “Do houses look like this?” She said: “Yes.” “Where have you seen such a house?” “In Lenin Avenue,” she said. The matter was broadly discussed on the internet. And we, doctors, were very glad because from the very beginning we set a difficult task for the builders: we asked them to build a clinic that would not look like a hospital. And they managed with the task. Certainly, we created incredibly complicated conditions for the builders. We demanded that there be high technology in every centimetre of this building (72,000 sq m), and it seems that they managed to do this. I am glad to welcome the managers of the German company Transumed, Dr Helou and Irina Alexandrova.
Bassam Helou (via interpreter): Good afternoon, Mr Putin, ladies and gentlemen. I am happy to celebrate the completion of the new centre with you. The design and construction of such a centre is not an ordinary task. The creation of a centre of the kind, especially at the highest European level, is a great challenge. Such a complex would be unique in Europe. Undoubtedly, we can be proud of it. Let me be honest: I am proud of it, too. You can understand the complexity of the engineering and the construction just from what you can see. More than just brick, concrete, steel and glass were combined here – the building is full of the most modern equipment. The bulk of equipment was produced by the world’s leading manufacturers. Putting all these materials together is not an easy task. I would like to thank our client for the confidence they had in us, and I believe that we did well with the challenge. Many sick children will be able to lead a normal life, fall in love, marry, raise a family and make a career in the future. And all of you have contributed to this. I wish a magic touch and enough warmth to everyone who works here, as even the best equipment will be useless without it.
Irina Alexandrova (Transumed Compamy): Mr Rumyantsev, it is great that the hospital looks like the one we planned: bright, courageous and optimistic, the one drawn by children. We are glad to share responsibility with you, the doctors, by right because you were always with us in the creative process from the very first moment of work on the project. After that, you supervised the construction process strictly and then we cleaned up the hospital together. You had a long way to go to this event. We were lucky, and we are happy to have worked to bring this day closer. Let us present you a symbolic key to the clinic that we have created together.
Alexander Rumyantsev: Thank you. Dear colleagues, we certainly had big plans because it was possible to build the centre only through international cooperation. The architect of the building and the Mosproyekt 2 Workshop, Alexander Asadov, is here. He is present because creating such a building is difficult. A medical architect, a unique architect, an honoured architect of the USSR and Russia, Vladimir Legoshin, is also present. He keeps medical regulations in mind during construction, and it is very difficult to find such people. Two offices, the Berlin office (Koblenz, Germany), the Moscow branch, and the Transumed Company office as well as a number of architects have worked here. They have put engineering into this building to the utmost. The sixth floor of the building will be equipped with devices that are worthy of special attention. What is the hospital like? It is a building that has been solidly engineered to create a good environment for our children.
I would like to say that we have specially planned the research centre. This is unusual for research institutes because usually scientific work is conducted only in the fields of clinics. This was clinical research; there was almost no fundamental research. But our field imposes development. The exchange of information happens once every two or three years. If you don’t keep up with the pace, you will always lag behind. This is a very complicated process. Therefore, the building which is to the right of you is basically a fundamental research building, I would say. It is sometimes called a little Silicon Valley or Nanoskolkovo because we are always called nanohaematologists since we work with children. But this claim is aimed to promote work in the field of cellular technologies, receive cellular drugs for new purposes and deal with gene therapy – everything is ready for this. We have the opportunities and the experts who can do this. They have been studying for years.
Mr Putin, I would like to say that I have followed your principle and invited several (five experts agreed in this case) outstanding western experts, a haematologist, an oncologist, a radiologist and a pathologist, to work here. All of them are present and they gladly agreed to work here because we are not going to raise local idols. There is no national science, like there is no national multiplication table, as Chekhov said, and we adhere to this view. We expect to succeed. I am sure about this, and I assure you, friends, that we will.