Running in the sand, on the sidewalk, contact with nature … For many people, this is a natural and even a way of life. However, for sales promoter Fábio Martins, this was only possible thanks to the help of players who wore or are still wearing the Brazilian national team shirt. They mobilized a fundraiser so that Fabio could travel from England to Brazil and undergo a major surgery that saved his life. The story was told this Sunday at Esporte Espetacular.
– I was an officer in the military police in the state of Minas Gerais, but I decided to resign and look for a better life in London. I was away from my family for eight months. Then my wife and six-year-old daughter got there. That’s when I found out I was sick. Some side effects, swelling of the feet, yellowing of the eyes. The abdomen began to stretch. Since I had no documents, it was illegal in the country, I went to a special center and they said that I had a serious liver disease.
The seriousness that the English doctors spoke of was autoimmune hepatitis. As a result, autoimmune cirrhosis developed. I was treated with medication, but it did not work. With his liver already severely swollen, Fabio’s life was in danger.
Fábio Martins runs along Praia de Boa Viagem, in Recife – Photo: reproduction
Without legal documents in the UK, Fabio had to return to Brazil. However, carriage cannot be carried out on a commercial flight. A kind of intensive care unit was needed – the intensive care unit, which cost about 400 thousand reais (85 thousand euros at the time). Without even getting 15% of that amount in the online pool, Fábio saw a series of solidarity take over Wembley Stadium in a friendly match between the Brazilians and the English, on November 14, 2017.
At that moment it came to my mind: Why not use football as a positive thing also to help people in this regard? I created a group on WhatsApp, where at first there were five athletes, and I was asking to add others – I remembered goalkeeper Gomez, who at that time defended Watford, the first division club in England.
Gabriel Jesus in a friendly match between Brazil and England at Wembley Stadium – Photo: Reuters
Banners and posters bearing the name Fábio have taken over the stands of one of the most important stadiums in world football. While the scoreboard was empty on the field, in the preparation of the two teams for the World Cup in Russia, 15 of them scored a real life goal.
Called up by Tite and related to the match, Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, Roberto Firmino, Willian, Ederson, Fernandinho and Danilo joined the stream led by goalkeeper Gomez. Today at Flamengo, Kennedy and Andreas Pereira also embraced the cause “All by Fabio”. The same thing happened with Richarlison and Sandro.
The campaign won the world and helped Fábio raise funds to return to Brazil in a mobile intensive care unit – Image: Reproduction
Since then, players have gone on the hunt to see which state is the best in Brazil so that Fábio can be transferred. They saw Recife as a world reference in liver transplantation. Over the past 22 years, Oswaldo Cruz University Hospital, located in the downtown area of the city, has performed 1,600 such procedures.
Claudio Lacerda was the doctor in charge of the Brazilian transplant who experienced life on the other side of the ocean, but had to return to take care of his health. The donor was a family from the city of Petrolina, in the hinterland of Pernambuco.
“When I was discharged from the hospital, the doctor said: ‘After this transplant, Fábio will be able to have a full life in a few months. His course will be complete.’ I took this with me and decided to change the life scenario of the transplant recipient. Because the point of view of people who don’t know is that this is sick and will get sick for the rest of his life. But no, quite the opposite. We are born again.”
Fabio had autoimmune cirrhosis – Photo: Reproduction
With a full recovery and feeling that his biggest victory has been achieved, he fell in love with street racing and runs races across the country. In the 6 km competition for transplant patients, which was held in Curitiba, he was crowned a champion and handed the trophy he received to the medical team led by Claudio. Gratitude also extended to football, a sport that Fabio was not fond of. Today, he insists on getting his family together to watch the Brazil national team matches.
– It’s a miracle because we had hoped at that moment that he would be able to get out of that state he was in, right? But I never imagined that he could become an athlete. This is very encouraging for other people who may have the same kind of problem to know it is possible. It’s not the end, Gomez said.
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