Philanthropist and Puttinu Cares founder Victor Calvagna dies at 63

Medical community in shock as Puttinu Cares stalwart Victor Calvagna succumbs to injuries in traffic accident

Victor Calvagna
Victor Calvagna

The founder of children’s cancer charity Puttinu Cares Foundation, Victor Calvagna, has died, succumbing to injuries incurred in a car accident. He was 63.

Calvagna was admitted to Mater Dei Hospital on Tuesday, 27 December after he was run over by a car in Qawra that evening at 8:30pm. His death was announced by the charity Puttinu Cares, which he founded.

A paediatric oncologist, Dr Calvagna is best known as one of the founders of the charity Puttinu Cares, which cares for young cancer patients that need treatment in the UK. As the first consultant for children with cancer, Calvagna was responsible for drastically increasing survival rates for children afflicted by cancer.

Calvagna set up Puttinu Cares Children’s Cancer Support Group in 2002, to create a coordinated network of care and support to support families of children seeking treatment for cancer, and to provide apartment accommodation in the United Kingdom for patients seeking treatment there.

In 2013, Puttinu Cares was awarded the European Citizens Prize. “Looking back, and seeing how much the support group has grown, I have to say that the success of the foundation is based on three fundamental principles: mutual respect for each other and above all giving dignity to each patient by working hard to alleviate some of their suffering, honesty and maintaining transparency in whatever we do, and being able to select the right volunteers who believe in the foundation’s principles and values; it is thanks to our volunteers’ talents that we have managed to honour our country. Working together as a team, we have fought hard for what we believed in, in a bid to achieve our goals,” Calvagna had said.

In 2010, he was honoured on Republic Day as a member of the National Order of Merit.

Calvagna was a confrere of the Hospitaller Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, and was accorded the accolade of Commander of Merit during the first international Lazarite Symposium at the Sacra Infirmeria of the Knights of Malta in 2012.

A dedicated athlete, Calvagna was an official “Ironman”, completing the physical endurance challenge in 2017.  “I train regularly, not only for the physical benefits that exercise gives, but also mentally... Exercise helps me relax and clear my thoughts.”

In August 2021, he was appointed honorary president of the Fgura United football club, one of Puttinu Cares’s supporters with annual football marathons to raise funds for charity.