The "Pope's Hospital" turns 150



It began with four girls admitted to a small dispensary in an alley in Rome and 150 years later the "Bambino Gesù" hospital, known as the "Pope's hospital" when donated to Pio XI, is one of the most avant-garde pediatric centers and solidarity of the world.

The "Bambino Gesù" pediatric hospital celebrated its 150th birthday today with a ceremony attended by the president of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella and the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, among other authorities.

"The future is a story of children", is the motto that this medical center has chosen for the celebrations that remember its official inauguration on March 19, 1869.

The Duchess Arabella Salviati, surprised that the children of the city had to share spaces with the elderly in hospitals, cultivated the idea of ​​creating a center in Rome similar to the Hôpital des Enfants Malades in Paris.

And the first collaborator of the project is just her little daughter who, excited about the idea, donates the piggy bank with her savings, which is now kept in a hospital showcase as a reminder of the symbolic gesture of a "child for other children".

On March 19, 1869, four girls entered a small dispensary in Calle delle Zoccolette where two doctors and some sisters of the Daughters of Charity of San Vincenzo de Paoli worked.

They put the name "Child Jesus", as expressly granted by Pope Pius IX, who wrote about the document preserved in the hospital's historical archive: "God bless good thought, consolidate it and perfect it".

The Bambino Gesù hospital is historically the first Italian pediatric hospital, because only 12 years later the Children's Hospital of Cremona will be inaugurated (1881)

In Rome, everyone knows the "Bambino Gesù" as the "hospital of the Pope" because in 1924 the Salviati family, given the growth in size and the service offered by the hospital and to ensure a stable future, donates the center to Pope Pius XI.

In 1887 he moved from the initial headquarters to the hill of Gianicolo, in a part of the old convent of Sant'Onofrio, and where the clinic's headquarters are currently located.

Beginning with Pope John XXIII in 1958, all the popes have visited the hospital and in 1978, Paul VI donated a large area to the hospital in Palidoro, on the Roman coast, with three pavilions and that in a few years became a center for avant-garde surgical medical assistance.

The center is able to respond to all the needs of transplantation in the pediatric age: heart, bone marrow, cornea, liver, kidney.

321 total transplants have been performed in the last year alone.

In addition, the hospital is headquartered in Italy with "Orphanet", the world's largest database of rare diseases to which 39 states belong and serves more than 13,000 patients each year.

In addition, he has identified 16 rare diseases that were not yet diagnosed.

Rare diseases such as those of the four girls admitted 150 years ago affected by "chlorosis", a form of anemia and iron deficiency caused by malnutrition and that thanks to research today has disappeared.

As Cardinal Parolin recalled today in his speech, one of the most important aspects of this hospital is its cooperation projects. He assured that they will continue to take care of sick children without distinction of races, religions and in countries where this possibility does not exist.

The hospital is also present in assistance and cooperation projects in Cambodia, the Central African Republic, Jordan, Syria, India, Tanzania, Georgia, Russia, China and Ethiopia.

Cristina Cabrejas

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