Irene Paredes pays surprise visit to a young cancer patient at Sant Pau Hospital


Irene Paredes and Aina, during the Barça player’s visit to Sant Pau Hospital

The FC Barcelona Foundation arranged this surprise encounter to show its support for children suffering from this serious illness and their families

This week the FC Barcelona first-team player and FC Barcelona Foundation ambassador, Irene Paredes, paid a surprise visit to Aina, a 12-year-old girl who is an inpatient at Barcelona’s Sant Pau Hospital and is being supported by the Enriqueta Villavecchia Private Foundation for Child Oncology. Aina is a passionate culé and a particularly close follower of the women’s first team and its players.

This visit coincides with International Childhood Cancer Day, which falls on 15th February, and is part of the FC Barcelona Foundation’s project "Il·lusions". Over the course of the year the Foundation arranges, amongst other activities, for pro players from the Club to meet children from Catalonia and across the globe who are suffering from serious illnesses such as cancer. These encounters provide hope and a clear boost to the children’s spirits at such a difficult time in their lives, as in many cases they must undergo gruelling treatment processes in a bid to tackle their conditions.

Said lifting of spirits is precisely what happened to Aina, thanks to her unexpected encounter with Irene Paredes. “Before Irene arrived she was feeling very down and in pain, but as soon as Irene came it took her mind off everything and she was smiling again,” said her parents, after the visit. “It’s given us a burst of happiness, we’re very pleased and grateful.”

The Azulgrana player also enjoyed first-hand a very dynamic and intense experience. She quickly established a bond with Aina and gifted her a shirt with her name on the back, signed by every player in the team, as well as some trays of sushi – Aina’s favourite food.

During their meeting, Irene and Aina agreed that the women’s team would dedicate a goal to her during this Wednesday’s Liga F encounter versus Levante at the Estadi Johan Cruyff. And that was precisely what happened: when Azulgrana attacker Salma Paralluelo opened the scoring in the 21st minute, she paid tribute to Aina by making a letter ‘A’ with her hands.

International Childhood Cancer Day

According to calculations by the World Health Organization (WHO), each year over 400,000 children worldwide suffer from some form of cancer. The most common forms of childhood cancer are leukaemias, brain cancers, lymphomas, and solid tumours, such as neuroblastoma and Wilms tumours. In Spain, more than 1,500 cases of childhood cancer are detected every year.

According to the Enriqueta Villavecchia Foundation, in recent decades advances made in the diagnosis and treatment of neoplastic diseases in children have resulted in significant improvements in survival rates.

Statement by Irene Paredes, FC Barcelona player and Barça Foundation ambassador

“I’m very pleased to have met Aina and paid her this surprise visit. I hope that she can recover from her illness soon. I think that we made her happy today and for a while her and her family could take their minds off this difficult situation they’re going through. For that reason alone, it was worth arranging this encounter. The whole team sends her hugs and their best wishes for her recovery.” 

“Being able to see the happiness on Aina and her family’s faces is priceless. Sometimes us players don’t fully realise how much of a boost we can give to children through activities like these, which we do with the Barça Foundation.”

Statement by Dr. Marta Segú, Director General of the FC Barcelona Foundation

“For years the FC Barcelona Foundation has been collaborating with hospitals and other organisations to bring the magic of Barça to boys and girls that are suffering from serious illnesses like cancer. Activities like the one we did today with Irene, a football player for our women’s first team, help improve the emotional wellbeing of unwell boys and girls, during very difficult times for them and their families. Today we want to send out hope to all the families who have a child with cancer and send encouragement to all those people and professionals who look after children affected by this disease on a day-to-day basis, as well as those carrying out investigation in search of effective treatments for this cruel illness.”