A UKRAINIAN boy who has blood cancer has found a safe haven in the home of his aunt in Ballydehob and said he likes it there.
Since his arrival in Ireland on Monday, the medical needs of Leonid Shapoval are being addressed as a matter of urgency. Irish people have responded generously by donating to the Help Leonid with his Leukaemia Treatment GoFundMe page.
Independent TD Michael Collins – who assisted with the family’s relocation from war-torn Ukraine – confirmed that Leonid was given a full medical assessment at the Mizen Medical Centre on Tuesday afternoon.
And, on Wednesday morning, he was referred to the Mercy Hospital in Cork, where decisions will be made on treatment for the five-and-a-half-year-old boy who has been seriously ill for the last eight months.
Before going to press, the TD confirmed that the total on Leonid’s GoFundMe page had exceeded €40,000 but ‘the number keeps changing rapidly because people keep making donations.’
He said the Shapoval family – who are grateful for ‘the outpouring of love and support’ they are receiving – informed him that any money not used for Leonid’s treatment will go directly to cancer research.
Leonid was due to have a bone marrow transplant in Kyiv, but when the family arrived at the hospital they were handed his files and told to get out of the country. That hospital has since been bombed by the Russia’s invasion forces.
The boy’s father Serghiy was excused from military service and – with the assistance of Deputy Collins and the Department of Foreign Affairs – the family, including the boy’s mother Yana and grandmother Svitlana, were given a police escort to the Polish border.
Deputy Collins said they got them a flight from Poland to Zurich and then to Dublin where they landed at 2pm on Monday and Leonid was delighted to be presented with a ‘welcome to Ireland’ teddy bear.
David Waldon, who is married to Leonid’s aunt Victoria, told The Southern Star that the family are lucky to be in Ballydehob.
‘The family are very thankful to Michael and the Department of Foreign Affairs for assisting them. ’
When asked how Leonid is coping, David said, ‘He’s a lovely lad. When he arrived, he was running around the place playing with dinky cars, but he has a catheter in his chest and will need serious medical attention in the weeks to come.
‘Leonid has settled in okay. He is a happy little lad. He actually said, “I like it here”.’