Kristina Ezhenkova is a beautiful 9 year old child from Belarus, who’s life is threatened by the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear accident which took place 20 years ago on 26 April.
Kristina and her friend Nastya came to Swindon in mid-March for a short holiday with the Justin and Virginia McGiffin in Haydon Wick and their three children Kaysha, 12, Cameron, 9, and Lewis, 7. (pictured Virginia with Kristina and Nastya, Cameron and Lewis)
Twelve children from Belarus are being hosted by families involved with West Wilts Link of Chernobyl Children Life Line, one of many similar organisations across Britain which arranged month long breaks for children living in areas affected by the radio active fallout from the Chernobyl disaster. Two decades later large numbers of people of dying of cancer. In particular there has been an 800 per cent increase in thyroid cancer because people have no alternative to eating food grown in contaminated soil.
Kristina and Nastya live in a small hamlet in the Gomel Region and have no local access to a doctor. Kristina’s father can no longer work as the result of a serious accident and her mother earns a meagre wage on a collective farm.
When Virginia noticed a mole on Kristina’s ankle she was immediately seen by Trowbridge GP Doctor Steve Rowlands. He immediately realised the situation could be serious and made arrangements for Kristina to be seen privately by oncology consultant Sherif Wilson at the Nuffield Hospital, Bristol.
As Belarus is not a member of the European Union its citizens cannot receive NHS treatment here. Mr Wilson explained the seriousness of Kristina’s health, not only from melanoma, but from the complications of radiation in her body. Investigations and an operation were recommended as soon as possible.
Mr Wilson and his team are giving their time and skills to remove the melanoma and carry out skin grafts in the first part of April, but Chernobyl Children Life Line have to raise a minimum of ?2,800 for the hospital bed and use of the operating theatre.
Kristina’s mother is unable to be with her for the operation and aftercare, but the McGiffin family have committed themselves to looking after Kristina for as long as it takes for her to get better, after the other children in the group have returned home.
“Kristina is such a lovely child who comes from such a poor background,” said Virginia McGiffin. “Even though she and Nastya have almost no English they have fitted in so well in our family; the children all get on so well. We have to give Kristina the chance of life and we are so grateful to Mr Wilson for agreeing to carry out the operation.”
Chernobyl Children Life Line chairperson Ann Durbin is pleading with the people of Swindon, to help raise the money to save Kristina from cancer. Cameron and Lewis McGiffin are keen ice hockey players at the Link Centre and parents involved with the Swindon Junior Ice Hockey Club are organising several events to get fund raising going.
Can you give Kristina the chance to live?
Donations of any size can be sent to Chernobyl Children Life Line treasurer:
Andrea Hillier, 1 Bridge Court, Westbury, Wilts.BA13 3FB.
Virginia McGiffin, 28 Cloverlands, Haydon Wick, Swindon, Wilts, SN25 1RW.
Cheques should be made payable to: Chernobbyl Children Life Line.
West Wilts Link of Chernobyl Children Life Line (Charity Reg.1014274) is one of 145 similar link organisations across Britain formed after the Chernobyl disaster.