First Lady Jill Biden to meet with Ukrainian children in St. Jude

Memphis, Ten. – First Lady Jill Biden was scheduled to visit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee on Friday, and the visit is expected to include meetings with Ukrainian children with cancer and those fleeing the war and their families for treatment in the United States.

The White House said Biden’s afternoon visit to Memphis Hospital was the first leg of a trip Friday, including a trip to Colorado for the Democratic National Committee’s finance event in Denver.

His visit to St. Jude, considered one of the leading researchers in cancer and other life-threatening diseases affecting children, is part of his and President Joe Biden’s so-called Cancer Munshot effort, which aims to reduce cancer deaths by at least 50. % Over next 25 years

Improving the lives of children with cancer is one of St. Jude’s main goals, founded in 1962 by the late actor Danny Thomas. Using most personal donations, families living with patients in St. Jude never receive a bill for treatment, travel, or accommodation. And food. Thomas’s daughter, actress Marlowe Thomas, is St. Jude’s national publicity director.

Jill Biden will meet with a cancer survivor, visit a laboratory and receive a briefing on St. Jude’s research activities, the White House said. Afterwards, he will meet in person with Ukrainian pediatric cancer patients and their relatives.

On Monday, St. Jude received four Ukrainian children, aged nine months to nine years. In addition to receiving cancer treatment, children will also receive therapy to meet their psychological, emotional and cultural needs, the hospital said.

James Downing, president and CEO of St. Jude’s, said that after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, St. Jude had removed children with cancer from the war zone with the Foundation in Poland.

The collaborator has helped more than 600 patients translate medical records and coordinate convoys from the Ukrainian city of Lviv to the Unicorn Marian Willemsky Clinic, a summer resort transformed into a Treez center in Poland. From there, sick children were taken to cancer centers in Europe, Canada and the United States, Downing said.

Four St. Jude patients traveled on a U.S. government-run medical transport plane from Krakow, accompanied by a St. Jude doctor in Poland, the hospital said. A second group of Ukrainian patients could come to the hospital next week, Downing said. The United States has accelerated immigration parole status for patients and their families, Downing said.

In 2019, St. Jude began working with the Ukrainian government and hospitals to evaluate the care they could provide. Downing said links were established with four Ukrainian hospitals and other agencies in Poland, Moldova and Romania.

Within hours of the Russian attack, St. Jude was asking his partners how it could help, Downing said.

“In those early days of the war, it was clear that over time, children would have to be removed,” Downing said.

Downing says he knows of at least two children who died on the way from Ukraine to Poland.

“It’s a journey that is life threatening,” Downing said. “I think Marlowe said that these children are facing two battles – the battle to fight cancer and the battle in their homeland.”

Translating their medical records is part of the drive to help Ukrainian children with cancer. St. Jude’s has established a network of 200 translators around the world who work with patient records.

Lana Yanishevsky, a Memphis doctor, and her husband Yuri were involved. The Jewish couple fled the anti-Semitism in Ukraine and came to Memphis in 1991. They were granted asylum and became U.S. citizens. Lana works as a pediatrician and an engineer at the ALSAC, a fundraiser for Yuri St. Jude’s.

With the help of Yuri, who converts photographs and emailed medical charts into a more readable format, Lana translates them from Russian or Ukrainian into English. He then sends them to St. Jude’s, which delivers them to the appropriate hospital.

During a Zoom interview with the Associated Press, Lana presented a medical chart for a child whose brain tumor is in dysfunctional and under palliative care. He does not know the location of the child.

“There’s no hope of survival, and then he’s dealing with war,” Lana said. “Imagine those parents.”

Lana and Yuri said they felt sad and helpless because they had seen the war in Kiev, where they lived and still have friends and relatives. But now, they think they are making a real difference.

“It was like a light inside me, against all this darkness,” said Yuri Yanishevsky. “It makes me feel great, it makes me feel useful.”

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