Everyone remains indestructible: How do people in Ukraine treat war-affected persons

Daily Russian shelling continues to maim Ukrainians at the front, in the frontline cities, and even at the deep rear. Today an account goes on several thousand persons (soldiers and civilians). And the state should take care of them. 

Paratrooper Mykhailo Yurchuk underwent a rehabilitation course at the National Rehabilitation Center ‘UNBROKEN’ and received a bionic prosthesis. Photo: Roman Kaiman

As the full-scale Russian invasion began, the rearward city of Lviv became a medical hub. That is where wounded humans are delivered. All the patients need surgery and long-term rehabilitation, and until recently, this treatment was accessible only abroad. 

And now the newly established National Rehabilitation Center ‘UNBROKEN’ based in Lviv started to accept war-affected persons. Local doctors provide appropriate medical care for mine blast injuries or gunshot wounds there for free. They treat everyone: soldiers and civilians, adults and kids. 

A team of doctors who work with the patients consists of a surgeon, a trauma surgeon, a prosthetist, a rehabilitation specialist, and a mental health specialist. They said that this team approach contributes to speedy healing. 

The surgical team of ‘UNBROKEN’ obtains a shell fragment stuck close to the aorta. Cardiac surgeons assist them. Photo: Press service of the First Medical Association of Lviv.

‘The National Rehabilitation Center “UNBROKEN” is a unique medical facility due to its multidisciplinary approach. During the project creation, we realised that people do not have to seek help in several hospitals as it was before. We believed it would be great to have everything in one place,’ said the spokeswoman of the ‘UNBROKEN’ centre, Solomiia Yakubechko.

Overall, the National Rehabilitation Center works in different directions. They are: surgery, burn surgery, orthopaedics, and prosthesis. The last one is one of the priorities in the work of ‘UNBROKEN’ because hundreds of patients need functional limbs. 

In addition, there is also a mental health centre. And as some doctors said, it is a substantive service component of the medical facility. 

The whole treatment in the National Rehabilitation Center ‘UNBROKEN’ is free of charge because the government finances it. However, the prostheses are installed for charitable funds. Thus, for example, the Malteser Relief Service, supported by the Government of Germany, bought 200 prostheses from the leader in the field, Ottobock.

Ukrainian soldiers received Ottobock prostheses. The Malteser Relief Service granted the National Rehabilitation Center ‘UNBROKEN’ about 200 components for the prostheses. Photo: Press service of the First Medical Association of Lviv.

Furthermore, a ‘prosthetics workshop’ opened in the ‘UNBROKEN’ Center in September 2022. It expects to facilitate the prosthetic procedure. The workshop consists of a container with the necessary equipment and a hospital room where patients will have fittings.

Фото: Пресслужба Першого медоб’єднання Львова

And now, Lviv prosthetists can independently manufacture a prosthetic socket that clamps on a human limb. It has to be made according to individual parameters due to the patient’s level of amputation. If a prosthetic socket fits well, a master will attach the rest of the details to it. They are, for example, adapters, tubes, plastic feet, knees, hands, or hooks.

Prosthetist of the National Rehabilitation Center ‘UNBROKEN’ works in a ‘prosthetics workshop’. Photo: Press service of the First Medical Association of Lviv.

It usually takes a term from a day to several months to fit a prosthesis, depending on how complicated they are. However, American healthcare professional Todd Stone made and installed a prosthesis in just 4 hours in the ‘UNBROKEN’ Center. He brought his expertise in prosthetic care to Lviv to transfer it to Ukrainian colleagues.

American prosthetist Todd Stone passed along with his knowledge to Lviv doctors. Photo: Press service of the First Medical Association of Lviv.
Oleh Hordiley from Kherson tries on his new prosthesis. He lost his leg on the second day of the full-scale Russian invasion due to the bomb explosion. Todd Stone helped him to get back on his feet in a day.  Photo: Press service of the First Medical Association of Lviv

Furthermore, Lviv prosthetists have recently installed a bionic arm. It is an artificial limb that removes physical barriers faced by disabled people. The high-tech device reads electrical impulses from the muscles and moves the robotic implant. Thus, for example, a person can move his bionic hand and pick up various objects.

The Ukrainian manufacturer Esper Bionics makes such bionic limbs. Their prostheses, by the way, were on the cover of the American magazine Time. It is on the list of top innovations of the year. However, the bionic limbs from Esper Bionics are not only placed on Time cover but also help restore mobility to Ukrainian wartime amputees. 

Prosthetists of the ‘UNBROKEN’ Center have already fitted several soldiers with artificial arms. 22-year-old Serhii Kostiuchenko was among the first patients. He has considerable combat experience, despite his young age. The guy admits that he has always wanted to defend his homeland.

Ukrainian soldier Serhii Kostiuchenko. Photo: Serhii Kostiuchenko

After  February 24, 2022, his unit defended the Kyiv region (Irpin, Bucha, Moschun), and later they were deployed into the Luhansk region. There, Serhii came under fine on the anniversary of the encounter with his girlfriend. The artillery shell landed near him, spraying shrapnel into the limbs. But the worst thing was that it tore off his arm. Serhii could not rise or ask for help as he racked from pain. So he lay, expecting death. But then the soldier was passing by, and Serhii raised a leg. A man saw the defender and saved him. 

Further long-term medical management and surgeries followed. Lying in the intensive care unit, Serhii decided to break up with his girlfriend. A wartime amputee did not want to burden his beloved. However, the girl found him, came to the hospital and offered to marry each other.

Serhii Kostiuchenko and his girlfriend Yulia came to the hospital. Photo: Press service of the First Medical Association of Lviv

Furthermore, the fiancée suggested Serhii get the prosthesis installed in the National Rehabilitation Center ‘UNBROKEN’. And that is how the story of Serhii Kostiuchenko had a happy ending. The defender received a bionic arm. So now the soldier is getting used to his new prosthesis and new married life.

Source: ‘UNBROKEN Ukraine’ YouTube channel

However, Serhii`s story is not unique. Several thousand individuals have got mine blast injuries because of the Russian invasion. All of them have been waiting months for prostheses, although the country at war cannot provide for their needs. The price of only one bionic limb can reach up to 40,000 euros. 

That is why the ‘UNBROKEN’ Center collaborated with the charity platform ‘dobro.ua’ to organise a fundraising campaign to help wounded Ukrainian soldiers. They plan to raise over 100 million hryvnias to provide at least 50 war-affected individuals with bionic limbs. As of the time of publishing, they have managed to collect 30% of the planned amount, so several amputees have received artificial arms.

To help the ‘UNBROKEN’ Center, you could follow the link and donate the chosen amount. In this way, we can thank soldiers and, together with the National Rehabilitation Center, save as many Ukrainians as possible.

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