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Hope: Cancer patient Panoulis, 4.5, to finally receive treatment

It needed two months of ‘promises and mockery’, the mobilization of a whole island and the public outcry until 4.5-year-old “Panoulis” -as his friends and supporters call him -could safely step into the path of his therapy.  Greek Health Ministry finally approved to cover part of the money needed for the treatment of Panoulis at the Memorial Hospital in New York.

Panagiotis Georgotas has been suffering from neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer, quite common during infancy. Therapy in Greece was not possible, the child needed to be treated in USA where doctors gave him extreme high chances to beat the cancer. Apparently Panoulis had 0% chances to be healed in Greece and Europe, but 70%-80% in the USA even though the therapy is still at experimental stage.


But the money needed was immense, the family could not afford to bring it together. The local community in the island of Corfu, the home of Georgotas family, was mobilized and got together to raise funds. A live-fundraising event was launched by private STAR TV and word was spread through the newspapers, websites, blogs and social media. A Facebook page was created to keep informed Panoulis’ supporters.

The mobilization was concluded with success, money was raised and Panoulis when on board of the plane to New York together with his parents, end of February.

Unfortunately the news at the Memorial Hospital were not good. Tests showed that the problem was bigger than originally thought, Panoulis ought to do separate treatments, the total cost skyrocketed: the original cost of $ 265 000 swelled to $390,000.

A relevant application by Georgotas family to the Greek Health Ministry to cover the difference was rejected end of week with the argument that “the therapy was at experimental stage” – even though it seems that it has been applied for some years.

Then a public outcry against the Health Ministry’s decision spread like a wild fire through the Greek internet and users condemning the minister.

On Friday, the good news was posted on Facebook page by Panoulis father: Greek Health Ministry and National Health Care system (EOPYY) had approved to come up for the additional cost, cover the trip and the hospitals expenses for two months. After this period of time, an extension will be given for the treatment cost.

The real battle for Panoulis starts now.

PS yes,  it needs the mobilization of a whole society so that those in charge do ‘the obvious’…

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One comment

  1. I see the dilemma here. Obviously one would want the best outcome for the child but, to be realistic, is it fair to place on our already overburdened health care system, incredibly high American health costs? I think not. I had innovative surgery in the USA in the late 70’s thanks to what I had earned as a young man and my family’s assistance but would never have deemed it right for others on a National Health scheme to go without because of my American expenses. Think long and hard on this.If you opt for foreign treatment, be prepared to pay for it!