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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 02 December 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 2 DECEMBER 2017 19 HEALTH Double miracle: doctors gave Despina Soumelidis three months to live but she defeated cancer and had a baby instead “My Greek doctor is my hero,” Despina tells Neos Kosmos THEODORA MAIOS Greek Australian nurse Despina Soumelidis saw her biggest dream come true when, after six failed IVF attempts, she decided to travel to Greece and seek medical assistance from Greek Australian gynecologist and IVF specialist, Dr Constantinos Pantos. “It hadn’t been an easy road up to that point; after being diagnosed with leukemia and surviving the cancer, all I could think of was how much I wanted to have a baby,” says Despina in an interview with Neos Kosmos. “That’s when I bumped into Mary Coustas’ mother, who was deeply moved by my story and suggested I got in touch with Dr Pantos,” recalls Despina who took that advice and contacted the doctor’s clinic in Greece straight away. After undertaking an in vitro fertilisation procedure, the 40-year-old nurse fell pregnant. “It was just a miracle and the best gift I had ever received. “I owe everything to Dr Pantos who wasn’t just another fertility specialist to me, but the man that looked after me as a friend and fi- life but I still longed to have a baby, despite the fact I was no longer with my partner. “I was determined to be a mother and I will be forever grateful and indebted to Dr Pantos because he took the time to understand me as a person and help me make my dream come true,” says Despina who is raising her daughter with the help of her mother Alexandra and father Matthaios. “Dr Pantos is our hero. He gave us our granddaughter, the greatest gift of all and the biggest reason to smile. We wish him a life of happiness and we hope life rewards him for all the incredible work that he does,” says Matthaios, who is originally from the region of Florina, northern Greece. Proud grandfather Matthaios Soumelidis, doctor Konstantinos Pantos, grandmother Alexandra Soumelidis and happy mother Despina Soumelidis with Alexandra II. PHOTO: KOSTAS DEVES nally gifted me with my precious daughter,” says Despina who attended the Hellenic Medical Tourism Conference in Melbourne last week and brought her 15-month-old daughter along to meet the doctor who brought her into this world. Although there are thousands of other similar cas- es in Australia and Greece, Despina’s story is certainly extraordinary. “My life up until the day I was diagnosed with cancer was perfectly normal. I was getting ready to get married to my partner and did shiftwork at the hospital. “Everything changed in an instant when I noticed a large bruise on my thigh. It wouldn’t go away and three months later doctors urged me to investigate further. “That’s when I was diagnosed with leukemia and was given three months to live,” she recalls. “It was a very emotional time. The verdict was devastating and came as a shock to me but I decided to undertake intensive treatment. It was a long and difficult journey, but I managed to get over my sickness.” Shortly after the nightmare was over, Despina was given the all clear from her doctors. “I was grateful for the second chance I was granted in “Just the thought that, with my contribution, those people’s lives have changed forever, fills me with joy and gratitude,” says Dr Pantos while holding Despina’s little girl in his arms. “I just want to encourage all women out there who are trying to have a baby to never lose hope,” says Despina. “Because I am the real example that miracles still do happen. Mine is named Alexandra.” Greek beaches to be made accessible for people with disability The initiative is part of the Tsipras government’s social policy program to promote equal rights Greece’s beaches - arguably the country’s most famous asset - are to become more accessible for people with mobility problems. The initiative is part of the Tsipras government’s social policy program to promote equal rights to people with disability. According to the announcement, the government aims to build infrastructure and install all appropriate equipment on a significant number of beaches in 2018, so that they are ready by the start of the next tourist season to welcome anyone who is excluded from beaches at the moment - notably the disabled, the elderly, pregnant women and people recovering from injuries and illness. The program is aiming to improve the quality of life of people living with disability in Greece, but also to attract more tourists to the country, making it a preferred destination for people with disability. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ social policy office mobilised the Economy and Development Ministry to draw up a plan to install infrastructure, giving independent wheelchair access to the sea and related facilities. The infrastructure will consist of non-permanent assembled mechanisms, as well as specially designed changing cabins, portable toilets, ramps, parking areas and areas providing shade and protection. The policy was announced by the Ministry of Economy and Development, which is responsible for implementing the plan, in accordance with the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (which was recently made a law of the state), but also with the EU ‘Europe 2020’ strategy for growth and employment, which emphasises sustainable and inclusive policies. On Monday, the ministry will invite offers, with a budget set at €5 million in total, with a maximum of €60,000 per facility. Among potential beneficiaries are municipalities on the coast, which can each bid for up to four, and the Public Properties Company.
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