Donatella Carmi was born in Siena in 1949. After a few years she moved with her family to Florence, where she completed her education with a degree in philosophy from the University of Florence in 1985. In 1995 she was elected to the Board of Directors of LILT (Lega Italiana per la Lotta contro i Tumori), and became a delegate for the CAMO (Centro di Aiuto al Malato Oncologico) pilot project, a palliative care service.

When in 1998 the LILT terminated this activity, she joined the Ongoing Care Unit (Unità di Cure Continue) of the Florence Health Agency as a volunteer. A few years later she set up a committee to collect funds for the creation of a Fondazione Italiana di Leniterapia, to operate in Italy in spreading a new culture of respect for suffering. The mission of the foundation is indeed to support the sick through appropriate treatments for the alleviation of pain – the so-called palliative treatments – but also through a new type of human approach that favours relations with the patient.

On 16 December 2001 the Fondazione Italiana di Leniterapia (FILE) was founded, which to date numbers almost 100 volunteers including doctors, social services and healthcare professionals, psychologists and physiotherapists. Donatella Carmi continues to be the President, passionately pursuing the statutory aims of care, research and education and fostering a culture of relieving suffering, also as a result of a dense network of collaboration with public and private structures which share the goals of the Foundation.

Since 2002 she has been an “Invited Member” of the Group “‘Etica delle cure di fine vita” of the Commissione Regionale di Bioetica Toscana, and since 2009 has been Representative for the Health and Social Services sector on the Consulta del Terzo Settore presso la Società della Salute di Firenze.

She has been a member of the Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze since 2006 and has served on the Steering Committee since 2010.