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Atso Chichich, 16 years old

Diagnosis: Multiple sclerosis. Long-term treatment with Betapheron required. A pack of Betapheron costs 1,600 Euros, 10 packs needed. Also required three plasmapheresis procedures, $900. Medication and procedures was paid.

His mother was called Vesna. In the military campaign of 1993 Atso lost his mother, who is still considered missing. His father, Darko, arrived in Russia in the early 1990s with the construction firm from Podgoritsy where he worked. In three months the form left the Russian market, and Darko stayed. He badly needed money that was impossible to earn at home. When Vesna disappeared, Darko had to make a decision about his son — either leave him at home with his grandmother or bring the boy to Russia. A Russian woman called Olga came to the rescue. When she met Darko and learned he had a son in Serbia, Olga, a mother of two young children, insisted that he boy was brought to Moscow.

Things seemed to be getting better. Olga got attached to Atso, supported him in every way. For a year the four-year-old learned Russian, then went to the kindergarten and to school where he studied until the ninth form. Atso, or Alexander as his friends call him, was an energetic and dapper boy. He dreamed to become a professional track athlete. “I competed a lot. I took first prizes, sometimes came second, but usually first,” Atso says from his bed. Today he can not even walk, he hardly sits and his eyesight is very poor.

Trouble came out of the blue. “Atso was never sick. But last year, after the winter vacations, we noticed he had lost interest in everything, he retired into his shell,” his parent say. Atso can remember the day his tragedy started, “I woke up in the morning and I suddenly felt unwell, I was stumbling, went dizzy.”

At the Neurology Institute Atso was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a grieve illness. The situation is complicated by the absence of the Russian citizenship, which means he has to pay for the expensive treatment. The boy’s father stays by his side night and day. Olga works at the library. Their income is not enough to pay for even ten percent of the necessary medications.

Atso dreams to go to Montenegro one day with his stepmother, see the grandmother who he still remembers, his brothers and uncles. Olga is determined to help him realize the dream. “In my dreams I can see him walking, I believe that this is how it will be.” Now Atso is undergoing plasmapheresis procedures at the Pediatric Instutute. During the year he needs to be given injections of Betapheron. Thanks to kind and sympathetic people, his parents were able to buy two packs of the medication, but ten more packs remain. One pack costs 1,600 Euros.

Atso’s father, Darko Chichich, says,
“The boy is given injections now. Doctors will come, we have to invite an ophthalmologist — his eyesight is poor — and a massagist. It is vital to massage him, to prevent stagnation in the immobile body parts. If somebody can and wants to help, I will be so grateful. I need to raise my son on his feet, but I cannot afford it.”

Doctor Olga Bykova comments,
“Atso has multiple sclerosis. For today he is practically on the stage of the second advance of the disease. We are trying to improve his condition so that we could stop the advancement of his disease with immunomodulators, such as Betapheron. The disease progresses, and very quickly — in two years he practically sat into a wheelchair. Treating Atso with immunomodulators can slow down the autoimmune processes, this is why we have to give him Betapheron now. The problem is — the boy has no citizenship so he has to pay for the medication.”

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