“Save a life” the desperate call for Nikolai

Dear friends,

I never wanted to write this article and it would be nice if nobody ever got to write it. In fact, I think it’s much more than just an article; it is a humanitarian appeal; This is even the most important humanitarian appeal I have ever had to make, because I would like to try to resolve a question of “life or death”. Yes, indeed, “of life or death“.

Schermata 2019-06-17 alle 01.04.53Francesco, a dear colleague of mine, turned to me so that I could help him in this desperate business. At the center of it all is Nikolai, a very nice 27-year-old Moldovan boy and cousin of his girlfriend Lana. Nikolai is struck by a terrible disease. Not so long ago, late in the evening, Francesco’s girlfriend Lana received this call from her mother:


  • “Hi Lana”
  • “Hi mom, how are you? Why are you calling me at this hour? ” Is anything wrong? Lana said.
  • “No, I’m not calling you for me, but for Nikolai,” said the mother. “I need you.”
  • “Your aunt told me that her condition had worsened. All the care he took was not helpful. He continues to bleed; he coughs all the time and now strange bulges have appeared on his chest that hurt him. The situation is really serious, Lana, “she replied.
  • “Here in Moldova, Schermata 2019-06-17 alle 00.49.10doctors say they cannot do anything for him anymore. Nikolai is terrified. They told him to try to go abroad. It’s as if they abandoned him. Your aunt called us desperate and asked if in Italy we could not try to do something? “, continued the mother.
  • With a trembling voice and a knot in her throat, Lana replied: “Mom, let him go right away. We will house him with us. Francesco and I are going to work it out “

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Nikolai came to Italy and in the last few weeks he has been welcomed by my colleague Francesco and his girlfriend.

As you will understand, his trip to our country is anything but a pleasure visit: Nikolai is dying. It has a very unpleasant thing called lymphoblastic lymphoma B, one of the most aggressive variants of this type of tumor.

The treatment he received in Moldova proved ineffective, although it would be more correct to say “very inadequate and insufficient”. Nikolai has nicknamed oncologists at his hospital “unprepared butchers” and it is frustrating to know that so much precious time has been wasted unnecessarily. But that is not the question. The fact is that he does not want to give up and has decided to come to Italy to make another attempt, asking for help from a country that has made the fight against cancer a recognized medical excellence throughout Europe.

Schermata 2019-06-17 alle 01.06.45When he arrived in Italy, Francesco and his girlfriend immediately took action by first contacting the Romagna Oncology Center in Forlì. The surprise was to learn that some pages of the Moldavian medical record had disappeared, who knows why?

Forlì’s doctors have reaffirmed the importance of starting chemotherapy as soon as possible because, and this is good news, even if the lymphoma is at an advanced stage, there is a reasonable chance of intervening in the disease.

The bad news, on the other hand, is that Moldova is an extra-European country, devoid of any facilitation or convention with our national health system. Many calls have been made to hospitals, non-profit organizations, social centers and medical volunteer groups offering assistance to children like Nikolai. It seems that in the very short term (alas, always shorter), the only way to move forward is to start paid treatments.

We are talking about big money, too big for one person. Nikolai, who worked as a mechanic in his country, could only count on a monthly salary of 150 €. An interim evaluation of the first four rounds of autologous stem cell-based chemo-immunotherapy estimates costs at a range of 20,000 to 30,000 euros, with the possibility that the same may be true for a bone marrow transplant.

This fact is enough to realize how difficult it is for him to meet this challenge

But as I said before, he has no desire to give up and he does not lack courage. He asked for help and in his small village east of the Carpathian Mountains he has already managed to raise a small amount of money in relation to the cost of the care he will have to face, but huge for the economic capacities of his native land. It is a very beautiful wave of generosity that comes from Moldova, a country that may not have the best oncologists in Europe, but that certainly has people with a great heart.

But as you can understand, this is not enough.

Francesco explained to me in detail all the steps that led to choosing paid care, the only way to move forward. The episodes that led him to struggle between the registration offices, AUSL, police stations, as well as hospitals and first aid centers, with information unfortunately not always clear or even misleading. All Nikolai does not have is time. That’s why the decision was made to start the treatment right away.

At this moment, Nikolai is at the CORE hospital in Reggio Emilia, in the hematology department, in a sterile ward. A few days ago, Francesco and I went to the hospital to meet him.

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At first, we were denied the opportunity to take photos within the service because the protocol in these cases is very rigid – “and rightly so”. Then, calmly explaining what the purpose of the initiative was, the head of the department allowed us to join Nikolai in the hallway near his room. This is where the picture below was taken.

A meeting which was, without any doubt, moving. Only when Nikolai came to me in a blouse, hat and aseptic mask, connected to a portable machine, did I realize how fragile his situation was. The emotion increased when I found myself in front of him, I thought of my son of almost 25 years.

After a shy greeting in a broken Italian, he tilted his head and after having lowered the mask, he took a pose “Moldovan” way, austere and serious, proving that no disease can him take off his pride.

It’s a heartbreaking story that makes me realize how lucky we are to be born in Italy or Europe and not elsewhere. In a country where a doctor first seeks treatment and does not ask you to pay bribes to do so; in a country, especially, that does not use you as laboratory guinea pig.

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“I do not know if you ever wondered what was the value of your life? For Nikolai, it’s more or less the cost of a commercial vehicle. “

I know it is always difficult to ask for money, but in this case, I feel involved in the front line and for that, I need you and your generosity.

Every donation, no matter how small, is important, and I want to thank all the generous people who have contributed in recent days. I also thank those who will do so in the coming days.

In the past, I have not relayed all sorts of “chains” on social media and I will continue not to do so because they are nonsense.

This is not one of those, and for maximum transparency, I am available for any information.

Those who want to send messages to Nikolai can send them through me. He only knows a few words of our language and does not speak English. Lana will handle the translations.

Below is the PayPal and VISA link for fundraising. There is nothing else to say for the moment. I will inform you here whenever necessary. Thank you very much to all.


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