The story of Vera Smolnikova from Novosibirsk struck a chord with people all around Russia. A bout of pneumonia left Vera with serious heart complications. In 2010, the girl was connected to artificial heart equipment at the Meshalkin Research Institute of Pathology of Circulation in Novosibirsk.
A heart transplant was Vera’s only real hope for survival, however, but heart transplants for children are not performed in Russia. Through a federal quota for medical treatment abroad, Vera thus left for Italy.
She received a donor heart in an operation performed in Italy in May 2011, and after undergoing a rehabilitation course, returned with her parents to Russia.
Her mother Irina, father Vladimir, and 13-year-old sister Sofya also came to the Kremlin to meet the President. Mr Putin proposed to talk with Vera and her family over a cup of tea.
The President noted, in particular, during the conversation, that Russian doctors “have the technical and professional ability to perform such operations”, but that, “we must improve the legislative base so as to make operations of this kind possible here in Russia too”.