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MaltaToday 5 January 2022 MIDWEEK

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2 NEWS maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 5 JANUARY 2022 2 NEWS Puttinu Cares founder succumbs to injuries incurred in car accident on 27 December CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 A paediatric oncologist, Dr Calvagna is best known as one of the founders of the chari- ty Puttinu Cares, which cares for young cancer patients that need treatment in the UK. As the first consultant for chil- dren with cancer, Calvagna was responsible for drastically increasing survival rates for children afflicted by cancer. Calvagna set up Puttinu Cares Children's Cancer Support Group in 2002, to create a co- ordinated network of care and support to support families of children seeking treatment for cancer, and to provide apart- ment accommodation in the United Kingdom for patients seeking treatment there. In 2013, Puttinu Cares was awarded the European Cit- izens Prize. "Looking back, and seeing how much the sup- port group has grown, I have to say that the success of the foundation is based on three fundamental principles: mu- tual respect for each other and above all giving dignity to each patient by working hard to alleviate some of their suffer- ing, honesty and maintaining transparency in whatever we do, and being able to select the right volunteers who believe in the foundation's principles and values; it is thanks to our volunteers' talents that we have managed to honour our country. Working together as a team, we have fought hard for what we believed in, in a bid to achieve our goals," Cal- vagna had said. In 2010, he was honoured on Republic Day as a member of the National Order of Merit. A dedicated athlete, Calvag- na was an official "Ironman", completing the physical en- durance challenge in 2017. "I train regularly, not only for the physical benefits that exercise gives, but also mentally... Ex- ercise helps me relax and clear my thoughts." In August 2021, he was ap- pointed honorary president of the Fgura United football club, one of Puttinu Cares's sup- porters with annual football marathons to raise funds for charity. Victor Calvagna was a dedicated athlete and an official "Ironman", completing the physical endurance challenge in 2017 KURT SANSONE TRIBUTES and condolences are pouring in for beloved paediatric oncologist Victor Calvagna, who passed away today after losing his battle with life. Calvagna was run over last week while jogging in Qawra. He lost 95% of his brain function and remained unconscious in hospital until his death on Tuesday. President George Vella said he was "saddened by the irrepa- rable loss", describing Calvagna as a "much-respected" doctor. "Our thoughts are with his bereaved family and friends. May his legacy of care for the most vulnerable inspire many to fol- low in his footsteps," Vella said. Messages of condolences, describing Calvagna and his work in glowing terms, poured in moments after news of his death was communicated by Puttinu Cares, the charity he helped set up to support families of child patients, requiring treatment abroad. Prime Minister Robert Abela said words are not enough to describe the good Calvagna did. "Condolences to his immedi- ate family and all the Puttinu family," Abela said. Opposition leader Bernard Grech described Calvagna as a "correct person, of few words and with a big heart even during a five-a-side football game". "Even if your tackles were hard, you were a respectful person. You offered your heart, life and skills to many people, not just your patients. The good you did and which will continue as a result of the legacy you leave behind will never be forgotten," Grech said. Health Minister Chris Fearne said Malta had lost a "true he- ro". "A friend and colleague. A sincere, competent and correct person. Loved by thousands of children and families. Malta has lost a true hero. Goodbye Victor." Nationalist Party Deputy Leader David Agius interrupted a live press conference he was giving when news came in of Cal- vagna's demise to offer his family condolences. He praised the doctor and his invaluable work with the most vulnerable. A touching tribute was posted on Facebook by a former col- league of Calvagna at the oncology hospital, Francesca Spiteri Mercieca. She described him as a tireless worker to try and save all children under his care. "You have left us to deal with deep sorrow, a great loss. The whole nation has lost a great champ, a father, a loving husband, a grandpa, a brother, an Iron Man, the best paediatric oncol- ogist and most of all our Capo at Puttinu Cares. Dottore, how will we grief this great loss? How?" She promised that Calvagna's legacy will be continued and asked him to give them the courage to do so. Spiteri Mercieca added: "You are, and will be, missed greatly by all your patients, your friends and all who knew and loved you. Your shoes will be really tough to fill. If I only had a magic wand!" Larkin Bonnici from Fgura Utd football club, where Calvagna was honorary president, posted a photo of the doctor smiling while receiving a donation on behalf of Puttinu Cares from the club's young players. "This is how we will remember you. A hero who will live forever in the lives of all the children you saved," Bonnici said. The Labour Party offered its condolences to Calvagna's family and recalled the "service of love" he gave his child patients and their families. Calvagna's former patients also expressed grief at his death, recalling how it was thanks to him that they survived their can- cer ordeal. Tributes pour in for Victor Calvagna: 'If only I had a magic wand!'

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