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«Tree for Life»

"Derevo zhyzni" (The Tree of Life) Partner Project is an informal, non-commercial association of charitable public organizations, individuals and legal entities helping patients of children's oncology departments in buying modular endoprosthetics,  creating conditions for full-value life for children with bone sarcomas of extremities, and for significant decrease of limb amputations of children.

The project was initiated in February 2012 by the National Cancer Institute and "'Crab' Foundation for Help to Children with Oncological Diseases" Charity Organization with support from Rinat Akhmetov's "Development of Ukraine" Foundation.

Due to chemotherapy's significant progress, surgery on malicious tumors which preserves extremities is the alternative to amputation in all specialized clinics of the world. Modular endoprosthetics’ application became the main reconstruction method in onco-orthopedy that allows  to completely restore extremities’ functions and raise the quality of children’s life by giving them back a full-scale movement activity and significant decrease in after-surgery complications.

Every year, at the department of children’s oncology of the National Cancer Institute, at least 15 surgical endoprosthetic operations of extremities affected by bone sarcoma are performed, as well as ten or so other operations resulting in preservation of limbs. For the latest three years, the Institute receives endoprosthetic units from a leading world manufacturer of such equipment, Stryker. The Ministry for Public Health buys 7 endoprosthetic units a year with money allocated from the state budget (UAH 1 million). This is not enough to really solve the problem for all the children in Ukraine who are in need of endoprosthetics. Other children get domestically made endoprosthetics of a much lesser quality; this leads to high risks of complications, malfunction and the ensuing loss of limbs.

As to the rates of spreading of oncological diseases, Ukraine occupies the sad second place in Europe. According to the National Cancer Institute, almost one million people are registered at oncological establishments. Every year, the number of oncological diseases grows by 2.6-3 percent, and every year cancer “becomes younger”. Every year, in Ukraine, 11-12 cases of oncology are registered per 100,000 children and teenagers under 18, while Ukraine holds 5th place in Europe as to the rate of mortality from malicious tumors that children have (5 cases for 100,000 population). Note here that oncological diseases are easier treated when children are concerned.

According to specialists, 7 out of 10 children affected by malicious tumors can be cured. Practice shows that if up-to-date methods of treatment are implemented in full scope, the results gained by Ukrainian doctors are similar to those of European medics. For instance, successful results of treatment of kidney cancer are seen in 80-90 percent of cases, while the proportion of children who survive over 5 years while suffering bone sarcoma is at least 60 percent. However, according to statistics, only 56 percent of children affected by oncology survive in our country. This means that little patients are dying who could be successfully treated if adequately provided with medical assistance.

All over the world, the issues of helping children affected by oncological diseases are solved jointly by the state and society. Oncology is one of the few spheres of medicine which, in Ukraine, is financed along the lines of individual state programs. However, all of them taken together do not cover the needs of oncological patients. The current financing of children’s oncology by the state does not exceed 40 percent of the necessary amount, while only close to 50 percent of patients are provided with medicines at the expense of the state. The share of provision of medical and diagnostic equipment is even lower: only 10 percent.

Against this background, the role of charity organizations is even higher. However, by the 2012 data, Ukraine occupies only 111th  slot in the private charity work development ranking (published by the biggest British charity, Charities Aid Foundation). The main reasons for this are the destruction of charity traditions, as well as lack of laws that would stimulate private philanthropy, and imperfect taxation system of Ukraine. The situation is made even worse by the fact that even active charity donors are often divided. This does not allow for creation of a system, for accumulating the money in order to solve painful and often urgent matters.  

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