By Evie Andreou
THE Karaiskakio Foundation is facing financial problems due to a reduction in state aid and a lack of research funds, its director Dr Pavlos Costeas said yesterday.
The creation of the donor registry was deemed necessary after the deaths of three Cypriots, Yiannis Tritaios, Anna Georgiou and five-year-old Andreas Karaiskakis, who were not able to find compatible bone marrow donors.
Karaiskakio, was founded in 1996 with the money collected through a fundraiser by the parents of Andreas Karaiskakis, in their effort to save their son’s life by a finding compatible.
“With the economic situation the state is in, and with the drop in support through state aid, a huge financial gap has been created which we are trying to cover in every way possible,” Costeas said.
He said that the foundation tries to collect funds through charity events and donations but that it was becoming more difficult since as the cash-strapped public was being asked to support more and more charities.
“The reduction of research funds was the first victim of the economic crisis but for us they were a source of development, the introduction of new technology because we do applied research. We bring new technology and fields like hematology oncology evolve rapidly and in order to support patients we must apply the new developments and discoveries to the patient’s benefit,” he said.
The foundation this year alone saved 27 lives through donation matches. “We have more than 137,000 active donors to date including 20,000 Turkish Cypriots,” Costeas said.
Costeas said that the foundation was among the few in the world that managed to combine applications from different multidisciplinary approaches in diagnosis and leukaemia patients’ support.
“We try to help with diagnosis, monitoring of the disease and even of the patient that will need the transplant. So we combined various sciences, molecular biology, genetics etc along with the search for compatible bone marrow donors in order to offer a more complete approach to patient support,” he said.
He also said that they may be the only centre in the world that starts searching for a compatible donor the same day as diagnosis because all specimens first go to Karaiskakio for the initial diagnostic process.
“If we have a young person whose diagnosis might require treatment through bone marrow transplant, at the same time we open a patient file, contact their physician and ask if the patient has siblings and the search for a donor begins,” Costeas said.
He added that the foundation follows strict operation regulations and is a member of Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide (BMDW), and since 2008 an accredited member of the World Marrow Donor Association (WMDA).