A Romanian boy, who celebrated his tenth birthday two weeks ago in the southern city of Calarasi, happily decided that he didn’t want to receive gifts from his friends at his birthday party, but instead to raise money for charity. The child’s name is Luca Minea, a seven year-old who was suffering from a rare disease called acute monoblastic leukaemia and needed money for the transport, pre-surgery treatment and bone marrow transplant at the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, Italy. His hometown friend, Mihai, felt honoured to form a larger charitable campaign to help Luca and quickly sent invitations to his classmates and a few other friends to join him at an indoor local playground, all wanting to help Luca as well. He didn’t hesitate to write down his honest wish asking his companions to turn their gifts into financial contributions to support the expenses for the ailing Luca. Surprisingly, twenty-one children said yes to his call for empathy and showed up at the entrance of the flamboyant fun place slipping the money into the handmade collecting box. In a bid to capture their understanding of the gift of giving, kids unanimously declared themselves thrilled by the event hoping for a new life for Luca while eating the birthday cake covered in blue coloured marzipan with an edible PlayStation on top.
Mihai’s mother, Oana Alexandru, in her 30’s, said although she made all the party arrangements, her son was the real inspiration to her. It all started a year ago when for unspecified reasons, Mihai didn’t open his birthday presents for four days, being more happy with the celebration than with the opening gifts. Oana saw his humanitarian potential that may have been a response to family education and she made him a charity suggestion for his next birthday party which was instantly accepted by the thoughtful child. They agreed to keep on celebrating without gifts but instead with kindness and respect for other children in need for many years on. Two other classmates decided that the joy of celebrating life was enough for them and followed Mihai and other kids around the world in sharing their path. Oana disclosed the amount of 750 Ron (160€ or $180) she deposited into Luca’s bank account after the mini-fundraising was complete. It was a small amount, she said, but we were glad to give it to Luca.
The 6-year-old boy boarded a plane for Rome three months ago with the help of the Romanian community that covered the transportation costs of about 17,000 euros ($19000). His condition is improving following recovery treatment, which included some sessions of chemotherapy. A bone marrow transplant may be taken into consideration if the current medical procedures fail. That particular surgery costs just over 50,000€ ($57000) at specialised clinics. But Luca’s father, Mirel Minea, said it was a miracle that his boy was still alive after Romanian doctors had predicted a one percent chance of surviving the aggressive illness. His Italian doctors are amazed that Luca has made such good progress in the last months and that he has progressed so much that he is walking again. As we sat for a talk, Mirel was visibly touched by all the support people have been giving Luca, and he repeatedly expressed his gratitude to those home and abroad. He is now in Romania taking care of his youngest child, a toddler who is one-and-a-half-year-old, and waiting for the shift change with his wife, Amalia, as the caretaker in Luca’s hospital ward. The father remains strong in his Christian faith wishing to bring his son back home healthy and to kick the ball with him again on the local football pitch.