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    From Crete to Trigoria - we can all learn from Michalis’ courage

    Roma has earned another son. Michalis is a seven-year-old Greek boy who was welcomed to Trigoria with open arms on 22 May.

    Michalis’ story is one of love and courage that begins in Crete and passes through Athens, before finally ending in Rome, where Michalis has found a home and a family.  Our family, our Roma family. 

    His illness 

    A healthy baby born on the island of Crete, Michalis contacted bronchitis a few years ago, as many children do. However, the infection spread from organ to organ before reaching his heart and causing dilated cardiomyopathy. At first, his treatment for the condition seemed to be working. 

    Despite this, his situation got worse and the doctors in Athens, who successfully treated Michalis the first time, suggested three specialised treatment centres to his parents. The first was in the USA, the second in Germany, and the third in Rome, the Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital. His parents had no doubts and immediately chose to treat their son in Italy.  

    There was no time to waste as his heart was not contracting normally and the drug therapy was no longer working. At the Bambino Gesu hospital, Michalis underwent emergency surgery. He stayed on the ward for 14 months while he waited for a transplant. His father, brothers and the aunt made the journey between Rome and Crete, while his mother Nelly dropped everything to stay by side. 

    Mamma Roma

    Three days before the Bambino Gesu hospital received a donor heart, Michalis’ mother had to fly back to Crete due to a bureaucratic matter. No one could’ve imagined that shortly after Michalis would have to undergo the most important surgery of his young life. 

    However, Michalis was not alone. His father was with him when the time came for his surgery. The hospital staff surrounded him in love, but still he yearned for his mother. He had made it through every treatment and through all the pain with his mother at his side. How could he overcome this without her?

    The hospital staff had an idea. Spending so many months in Rome made him one of us and he became an AS Roma fan. His passion for the Giallorossi began in his hospital room. He watched Roma matches and dreamed of Roma heroes. On the day that his transplant arrived, Roma were playing Salernitana at the Olimpico, during which Paulo Dybala scored a penalty.

    The nurses turned on the TV and replayed the match. Michalis watched the whole game and celebrated Dybala’s goal. Watching the match helped distract him and keep him calm. His happy smile returned and he was ready for his new heart. 

    When his mother couldn’t be there, Roma was there to hold his hand, just as his mother would’ve done. 

    The miracle

    Despite the transplant, Michalis’ heart was not beating as it should and he was kept on life support for three days. Just as all hope was lost, the doctors managed to restart his heart with drugs, marking the start of his new life. During this time, Michalis received signed shirts from Roma players, including Dybala. 

    Just as everything seemed to be going well, an infection attacked Michalis’ aorta and a haemorrhage plunged his life back into insecurity. The surgeons at the Bambino Gesu tried their best, knowing that their best efforts would not save Michalis’ life. 

    Despite this, a miracle happened. A team effort from multiple departments at the hospital saved Michalis’ life once again. 

    With his idols

    While all of this was happening, the club was informed about this incredible story. On 22 May, Michalis was welcomed to Trigoria by Daniele De Rossi. His mother Nelly said, “It was a magical day. Michalis was so excited about meeting his idols and the gifts he had received.

    “Michalis is an extremely brave boy. He knew everything about his condition from day one. He had always been told the truth. He was not afraid and never complained. He fought like a lion. I’d like that to be the message from this story: always try to see the positive and never give up. Michalis is an example of how you can look to the future and also of how miracles can happen.”

    This miracle could only have happened thanks to such an extraordinary act. “If no one had donated that heart, Michalis wouldn’t be alive today. Please donate. Organ donation allows children like Michalis to survive.”

    Nelly would also like to thank everyone, particularly AS Roma and Daniele De Rossi. “He’s a great man who gave us so much strength and invited Michalis to the Olimpico.” His mother also thanked CEO Lina Soulouku who “welcomed us to Trigoria with such kindness and warmth.”

    Michalis will return to his home in Greece knowing that he has another family across the pond in another country. 

    Roma is his home, and will be forever. 

    See the gallery below.

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