July 25, 2024 | 3:42

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Amancio Ortega “distributes” his taxes however he wants

Jesus Carames

June 14, 2024 | 7:20 a.m.

A gesture of solidarity with nuances

Amancio Ortega, founder of Inditex and one of the richest men in the world, has donated 60 millones de euros to the Sant Joan de Déu Hospital to finance a new center dedicated to research into rare diseases. This center, called Únicas, is projected as an international pioneer in the promotion of new therapies and personalized diagnoses.

The funds donated by the Amancio Ortega Foundation They will be used for the construction of the building and its interior equipment. The intention is for the center to come into operation at the beginning of 2026 and become the core of the Únicas state network, which includes 30 reference hospitals in Spain. According to Manel del Castillo, director of Sant Joan de Déu, this agreement is “historic” and represents the most important financing that the hospital has ever received. Flora Pérez, president of the foundation, has pointed out that this contribution represents "a before and after" for families with children who suffer from rare or ultra-rare diseases.

Impact and controversy

Although Ortega's donation is a significant gesture, it has generated controversy. Critics point out that, considering his vast assets, the donation of 60 millones de euros represents only one 0,062% of his total wealth. To put this in perspective, it is as if a person with a net worth of 10.000 euros donated 6,2 euros. Furthermore, there are voices who believe that Ortega should focus on paying more taxes instead of using fiscal frameworks, arguing that a greater tax contribution would have a broader and more sustainable impact on society.

Despite these criticisms, the donation has been welcomed by many families and health professionals who work with rare diseases. The new center will be located in Esplugues de Llobregat, on land donated by the City Council, and will have Sqm 14.000 distributed across six plants, where innovative services will be offered to guarantee accurate and early diagnoses.

Collaborations and testimonies of hope

The Únicas project also has the collaboration of the Leo Messi Foundation and Stavros Niarchos Foundation, who will participate in the development of assistance platforms for children and their families. In addition to improving resources to accelerate diagnoses, the center will be dedicated to manufacturing specific therapies based on genetic and cellular procedures, as well as techniques such as neuromodulation and deep brain stimulation.

During the presentation of the project, the case of Santiago, a child from Pamplona who began to develop symptoms of an ultra-rare disease that limited his mobility, was shared. Thanks to the intervention of the specialists at Sant Joan de Déu, Santiago was diagnosed with DYT-TOR1A, a pathology that causes involuntary contractions in the legs. After a quick surgical intervention, Santiago began walking again in a few weeks. His story, emotionally told by his father, illustrates the positive impact the new center could have on many families.

The construction of the Únicas center represents a light of hope for those fighting rare diseases, demonstrating that, despite criticism, private donations can have a significant impact on improving medical care and scientific research.

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