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Saved Lives: Tales from the Military Hospital


It was the first warm Friday of 2016 when we, together with a delegation from the US Congress, visited the Main Military Hospital in Kyiv.

A group of Congressional staffers arrived in Kyiv to better understand the situation in the country which is the focus of their work. They are attending meetings and preparing monitoring reports concerning the real situation in Ukraine.

The trip was organized by Ukrainian-American, Alexa Chopivsky. She turned to Patriot Defence for help in organizing a visit to the military hospital.

In the trauma ward, we are met with the doctor on duty Volodymyr Shypunov. He explains that the most gravely ill are operated on and cared for in the hospital.

We walk into the first room and meet three soldiers who were injured in mid-March. Two of them lost their limbs, the third sustained a shrapnel wound in his femur and his limbs were able to be saved.

Alexa Chopivsky thanks the men for their service and asks about their affairs. They answer that everything is alright and that the priority is not to let spirits fall. “It will all be good,” Volodymyr, 30, who suffered below the knee amputations two weeks ago, says calmly and with a smile.

We ask Volodymyr to tell us his story.

Volodymyr is an officer, a commander of an intelligence unit. On March 14, we was on a mission with his group. He recalls being in front, when towards the end of the mission, they discovered enemy positions and equipment, so he decided to have a closer look.

And Volodymyr stepped on an anti-tank mine with his left foot. The right foot was injured from the blast. His collarbone shattered but he did not lose consciousness.

The other soldiers helped. They applied a tourniquet and carried him nearly 2 kilometres to an ambulance that drove Volodymyr to Volnovakha. Then it was on to Mariupol, followed by evacuation via helicopter first to Dnipropetrovsk and then to Kyiv.

In Kyiv, his left and right legs were operated on, and then the collarbone that was broken in several places.

Doctor Shypunov adds that the patient’s condition is still acute and he is currently undergoing preparations for preliminary prosthetics.

Children’s pictures brought by volunteers hang on the wall beside Volodymyr’s bed. His wife is 8 months pregnant. They live outside of Kyiv, so she comes to visit him fairly often.

Volodymyr has a higher education, having completed a master’s degree in Kyiv’s Polytechnical University. He worked as a design engineer.

When someone from the delegation asks him why he went to fight, he answers that it was hard to watch the news and see soldiers constantly dying. He says it was difficult for his family, but that he decided they would understand and endure.

We leave the room and meet another solider in the hallway. His name is also Volodymyr. He served in the 93rd separate mechanized brigade. In July, 2015, a piece of shrapnel destroyed his left foot not far from the Donetsk airport.

Volodymyr returned from treatment in Germany a week ago. He is being evaluated by an expert commission at the hospital. The commission’s purpose is to determine the soldier’s physical condition and suitability for further service.

In the next room we meet patients who have been in the hospital many times over the course of many months. One of the men was severely injured in the abdomen and left thigh. He’s been in the hospital for 5 months, undergone nearly 20 operations and still has to undergo extensive treatment to regain full use of his leg.

We heard only a few stories from many injured Ukrainian soldiers. Some of them are only beginning the long road of treatment and rehabilitation, while others are preparing for a new civilian life. But they all managed to stay alive and make it to the hospital.

International statistics show that 90% of the injured die prior to seeing a doctor. The reasons include lack of appropriate first aid training and poor evacuation.

Read also: 

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