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Sunday 27 November 2022

David Beckham surprises UHS consultant Michael Griksaitis and young Ukrainian cancer patient

This is the moment David Beckham surprised Southampton Children’s Hospital consultant Michael Griksaitis, as he visited one of the Ukrainian children he helped bring to the UK for cancer treatment.

Michael had been invited to University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to be reunited with 12-year-old Kyrylo – one of 21 young patients who had been retrieved at the Polish border and flown to the UK, thanks to the team of medics from PICU who volunteered to carry out the mission.

The youngsters, aged from eight months to 17 years old, were all being treated in Ukrainian hospitals when Russia invaded the country.

Michael, who led the mission which involved a team of nine medics from University Hospital Southampton alongside colleagues from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, was speaking to Kyrylo and his mum when Beckham suddenly appeared.

 Kyrylo and his mum with David and Michael
Kyrylo and his mum with David and Michael

The special visit was organised by the Sun newspaper as part of their Who Cares Wins awards which saw Dr Griksaitis and his PICU team finalists in the Best Team category. The winners will be revealed tonight on Channel 4.

Kyrylo, who is a Manchester United fan and told Beckham that he had followed his career, chatted with his hero about his cancer treatment and played a game of table football. He was also delighted to be presented with a signed football shirt from his favourite team.

 UHS consultant Michael Griksaitis and David Beckham
UHS consultant Michael Griksaitis and David Beckham

It was a real surprise to meet David. It was also fantastic to see Kyrylo again after we brought him back from the Ukraine. Seeing his reaction to meeting David was a special moment.

Freya Pearson, deputy chief medical officer at Southampton Children’s Hospital, said: “I am incredibly proud of the whole PICU team – those who volunteered to travel on the mission and those who made it possible back on the unit by stepping in to cover shifts. They all work tirelessly every day to provide the very best care and support to all children and their families and it is great to see their efforts honoured with this award.”

Southampton Children’s Hospital is part of University Hospital Southampton, one of the largest acute teaching Trusts in the UK.

It is a major centre for specialist paediatric services in the south of England, providing acute specialist care not only to our local population in Southampton but across the south of England. It is one of only four which provides all specialist services for children services on site.

Our children’s hospital is also one of two that provides major trauma care and our workforce of specialist paediatric consultants, nurses, teachers, play team and wider healthcare teams offer a wide range of diagnosis, treatment and support facilities for children and their parents.