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Sunday January 8, 2006

Makna gets RM1b surprise


KUALA LUMPUR: The dream of the National Cancer Council (Makna) to have its own research centre and hospital may now be realised – thanks to a US$275mil (RM1.04bil) donation. 

Council president Datuk Mohd Farid Ariffin said Lebanese businessman Dr Elie Youssef Najem approached him on Friday with the intention of setting up the centre. 

He said the donation came out of the blue. 

“It has always been Makna's dream to set up its own research centre and hospital,” he said at a press conference with Dr Elie. 

UNEXPECTED BENEFACTOR: Dr Elie (centre) touching a memento presented to him by Mohd Farid at the press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday as Farinnie looks on.
Also present was Dr Elie's Malaysian wife Farinnie Mohd Farid and her parents. 

Dr Elie is suffering from multiple scleroses, spinal cord cavity and brain tumour and has been seeking treatment here for the past year. 

He said he was donating the money as he wanted to help children of poor families get affordable treatment. 

Being a cancer patient and having lost a daughter to the disease, he said: “I have all this money and I cannot find a cure.” 

He also said he was surprised that some of the facilities in the country were not up to date. 

He said US$25mil (RM94.7mil) would be used to buy land, US$200mil (RM757.3mil) to build the centre and US$50mil (RM189.4mil) for its operations. 

Makna general manager Farahida Mohd Farid said Dr Elie has pledged his commitment to give the funds and Makna would receive them in good faith. 

Dr Elie said he wanted the centre to be named The Farinnie Elie and Makna's Children Cancer Treatment and Research Centre and Hospital. 

He hoped to see the project take off in four months since he had already located a plot of land on which the centre would be built. 

Dr Elie, who has businesses in telecommunications, banking and oil and gas in various countries, also said he wanted to start a project with Makna called “My Last Wish” programme. 

Under the project, one child will be selected each month and be given the opportunity to fulfil his or her wish. 

“The wish can be to ride a horse or meet the prime minister,” he added. 

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