Sixteen Ukrainian children diagnosed with cancer landed on the tarmac on Friday. Genève Aéroport participated in a chain of solidarity to enable these young patients to receive the appropriate treatment in Switzerland.
Matviy, Victoria and Nikita are just three names of the sixteen Ukrainian children suffering from cancer who have not received any treatment since 24 February, when war broke out in Ukraine. « Certain pathologies, such as leukaemia, spread rapidly without treatment », explains Natalie Guignard, director of the Swiss association Zoé4life which supports children with cancer. It was Natalie who organised the transfer, on Friday, of young patients to Geneva from Poland, a country in which they recently found refuge after fleeing the conflict.
In just a few days, she managed to set up a whole chain of solidarity to organise this operation. The company easyJet graciously provided a plane to carry out this humanitarian flight from Krakow to Geneva, while Gate Gourmet and Swissport offered their services. Genève Aéroport for its part paid for the usual taxes with Skyguide and facilitated the airport transfer of passengers. « This operation was put into action in just a few days, so we had to be very responsive! », explains Giovanni Russo, Chief Operations Officer at Genève Aéroport. « To see these children in our terminal today is particularly moving. »
Upon arrival, the relief is apparent
A total of sixteen children, 30 carers, a doctor, a nurse and translators arrived in Switzerland on Friday at 18:00. A team of volunteer paramedics immediately transferred the most fragile patients to various hospitals, including the CHUV. More children will arrive in the coming days. « My 3-year-old son has medulloblastoma », says Olga, a resident of Lviv in Ukraine. « I'm relieved to know that he's going to be taken care of at the hospital. At the same time, I still hear the bomb warning sirens in my head and I'm still scared. »
Genève Aéroport is used to hosting humanitarian flights on the platform. Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, it has also facilitated the airport transfer of sick refugees travelling on scheduled flights. On Thursday, airport staff accompanied a Ukrainian mother and her two children suffering from serious pathologies who had come to Switzerland to receive the appropriate treatment.