Turkey opens airspace to save Italian toddler’s life
ANKARA- Anadolu Agency
Amid the closure of Turkish airspace due to the coronavirus outbreak, it opened it up to an Italian jet to save the life of a 2-year-old Italian child.
On March 14, Dr. Massimo Cardillo, the head of Italy’s National Transplant Center, sent an email asking Turkish authorities for help with the ailing toddler, according to Turkish healthcare sources.
The mail said that after a comprehensive search of international donor banks, the compatible donor for the toddler awaiting a stem cell transplant was found in Turkey, added the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Although by that time Turkey had closed its airspace due to the COVID-19 threat, Turkey’s Health Ministry and Foreign Ministry made a special exception in this case to save the toddler’s life.
The compatible donor was found and provided by Turkey's Stem Cell Coordination Center.
On March 31, a jet took off from Rome and was allowed to land at Istanbul Airport.
The stem cells were then delivered to the Italian team by Turkish doctors in an isolated room at the airport.
The Italian team took the cells to Rome without incident and delivered them to the hospital for transplantation to the toddler.
Nicoletta Sacchi, director of the Italian Bone Marrow Donor Registry, said they will never forget Turkey’s help during this difficult period.
"I extend my thanks to the donor, the main hero of the event. We’re grateful to both Turkey and the donor," he said.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed tens of thousands of people worldwide since emerging last December, many countries, including Turkey, have closed their airspace to both international and domestic flights.