Our Charity finds its origin in the beautiful story experienced by the founding members of the charity about young Victor and also in the drama shared at the bedside of Yao.
in Lomé, three young French dentists on a humanitarian mission found themselves at the bedside of a little boy who had originally been brought into the surgery for an oral abscess. This child was in fact suffering from a cancer of the jaw, Burkitt Lymphoma.
Thus, they discovered with dismay that there was no structure in all of Togo which could treat childhood cancers.
They took it upon themselves to treat him against all the odds : no NHS, parents with scarce resources and most of the essential drugs not available there.
Togolese paediatric interns became very involved and Dr. Kutoati wrote a treatment protocol. The chemotherapy drugs were found and paid for by our young dentists, after a journey of hundreds of kilometres through Togo, Benin and Ghana.
They spent several anxious weeks at the child’s bedside and, despite the very low chances of recovery given the circumstances, Victor was saved ! The first victory over cancer … The Charity to come would be called VICTOiR (VICTORy) ! Today, Victor is a healthy young man.
Alas, during this time, it was little Yao who arrived too late at the hospital and who died in agony before the eyes of our 3 young dentists and the other medical staff.
Encouraged by Victor’s complete recovery, yet overwhelmed by the death of Yao, these young people pledged: “NEVER EVER Again !”. They then had a crazy dream: to help create and set up a paediatric oncology unit at the University Hospital in the capital, Lomé.
It was 2004, and everything needed to be done! To do this there were 6 youngsters, a mixture of French dentists and Togolese medical interns who were all very motivated but completely oblivious to the enormity of the task at hand…
During the first two years, Brigitte, the President, devoted herself entirely to getting the Charity set up and to the purchase of very expensive chemotherapy products. She also spent time in Lomé to set up an embryonic infrastructure at the University Hospital.
The other French founding members, Cyril and Marion, brought their financial support, mobilized their relatives and joined the team on site during these intense missions, while the Togolese interns looked after the children in extremely difficult and precarious material conditions.
the Charity was officially registered ! VICTOiR was now able to give the Lomé University Hospital the material and financial means to treat and cure children suffering from Burkitt Lymphoma. A budding children Cancer unit was now set up and would gradually have to develop and add structure.
VICTOiR’s action was greatly reinforced by two essential events: The Lomé Hospital decided to formally assign a paediatrician to the Unit and Brigitte convinced the GFAOP (Franco-African Group for Paediatric Oncology) to invest in Togo and VICTOiR.
Brigitte, the President of the charity, met with Professor Lemerle, founder of the Franco-African Group of Paediatric Oncology (GFAOP) which is the referring organization for the management of childhood cancer in French-speaking Africa. Professor Lemerle, convinced by the seriousness of the charity's action, in view of the results already obtained, accepted VICTOiR as a new member of the GFAOP. From that moment this organization would provide the chemotherapy drugs and products necessary for the treatments, which had been so difficult to obtain until then. In addition, it would provide initial and continued training for medical staff.
A close collaboration was set up and thus allowed VICTOiR to manage a second type of cancer, Nephroblastoma, which is kidney cancer.
In addition, three new members join VICTOiR's governing body and were now deeply involved in the Charity.
VICTOiR hired two nurses to assist the pediatrician at the Hospital.
A small pavilion dedicated to the care of children with cancer was built, thanks to the providential aid of two Italian Charities.
It was fully equipped with the content of a container fully stocked which came from France.
The Charity took on a third cancer, Hodgkin’s disease.
A support committee was set up in Toulouse to support the founding members and allow them to extend their field of action.
A major investment was made to provide a one-year training qualification in Oncology for the unit’s paediatrician Dr. Jules Guédenon. He achieved a brilliant first in his University Diploma in Paediatric Oncology.
A third nurse joined the team and we also hired a child psychologist.
VICTOiR also started treating a fourth cancer: Leukemia, one of the five most important cancers in the region.
We were finally able to look after and treat all children with cancers which required chemotherapy and surgery.
The Day Hospital was completed !
However, to cope with the growing number of young patients which was overwhelming our capacity (an average of 30 children in care for a pavilion built to look after 12 at most), VICTOiR voted for the construction of a new building, with two separate levels, as their next project.
The Day Hospital, on the ground floor, has just been completed. It will make it possible to accommodate outpatients for diagnostics and care between chemotherapy sessions, thus freeing up beds for long hospital stays. It also has a critically needed intensive care room.
In 2020, work on the first floor is making good progress. This level will double the number of beds reserved for long-term hospital care. We are able to cover the costs of the building and construction but we now need to find additional funds to ensure the furbishing and finishing touches.
This new structure will make it possible to treat all the children with cancer in Togo in optimal, sanitary conditions.
New needs are emerging and we are going to set up, with the help of GFAOP, a parent’s structure which will accommodate families during inter-treatment periods and day hospital care.