More than 400 Ukrainian children with oncology have been evacuated for treatment abroad
According to the agreements between the wife of the President of Ukraine Olena Zelenska and the first ladies of other countries, life flights for Ukrainian children with cancer from combat zones were organized with the assistance of the leadership of foreign countries and relevant ministries.
Such flights of life are carried out from the first weeks of the war through cooperation with volunteer and medical organizations.
In order to ensure the safety of children with cancer, they are first brought to Lviv - to the Western Ukrainian Specialized Children's Medical Center (ZUSDMC), headed by Andriy Sinyuta. There, children are examined and given medical support.
Then, accompanied by medical teams, young patients together with their relatives are taken to the Republic of Poland to a specially created Unicorn clinic. There, children are assigned to permanent treatment in Poland or other European countries.
Currently, more than 400 young patients continue treatment in peaceful countries.
Olena Zelenska told the stories of doctors of the Western Ukrainian Specialized Children's Medical Center who take care of the evacuation of children on her social network page.
"It's time to introduce you to the doctors who do all this, who live at work, treat not only diseases but also souls, because during the war they became psychologists, counselors, friends, family for those who need it," - she noted.
In particular, this is the head of the Clinic of Pediatric Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation Roman Kizima, one of the doctors - co-organizers of the international project SAFER Ukraine for the evacuation of children with cancer to Poland.
The war changed the plans of a talented oncologist who, together with a team of young specialists from ZUSDMC, actively worked on implementing an important project for bone marrow transplantation for children in Lviv. On February 15, nine days before the invasion, the Clinic of Pediatric Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplantation was opened at the Western Ukrainian Specialized Children's Medical Center. There were plans for at least ten such operations a year, and the first transplant was expected in the spring of 2022.
"Before the war, we learned to save children with cancer in Ukraine. At a very high level. We are moving to the European level and could soon provide medical care at the level of leading clinics in Europe and the world," says Roman Kizima.
Another hero in a white coat is Andriy Sinyuta, director of the Western Ukrainian Specialized Children's Medical Center. He was one of the initiators of a strategic decision on evacuating seriously ill children.
Currently, the situation in Lviv allows seriously ill children to continue treatment. ZUSDMC has enough resources and opportunities to provide care to young patients.
Despite the air alarms in the city, doctors are working hard. When there is an alarm, they try to entertain children in the shelter - fairy tales, songs, and short stories are broadcast through a loudspeaker.
"War is a mighty challenge. But we are changing because of challenges. And by changing, we become the most effective," Andriy Sinyuta is convinced.
Zoryana Kizima is a doctor of the highest category, the most experienced pediatric oncologist of the evacuation project team. She took care of the treatment and transportation of children with the most difficult cases and infants with malignant tumors.
Head of the Department of Pediatric Surgery, Lviv National Medical University. Andriy Kuzyk, a pediatric surgeon at the Western Ukrainian Specialized Children's Medical Center, said that the work was ongoing.
"Some children are sent, others are accepted immediately. We do everything in our power for our patients, we do not stop operating even during anxieties in the city. And thanks to our benefactors, we are also able to help our colleagues in the regions where the fighting continues," he said.
Iryna Tsymbalyuk-Voloshin, Head of the Department of Hematology and Intensive Care of the ZUSDMC, has actively supported the evacuation of seriously ill children to Poland since the beginning of the war. According to her, there are many cases when Ukrainian doctors do not have the opportunity to provide proper medical care. Some because of shelling and bombing, some because of destroyed hospitals, frequent and prolonged air alarms, and the need for patients to stay in unadapted, unsafe shelters.
"The decision to go abroad is made only by the child's parents. For our part, we help to prepare the patient: we provide emergency hematological and pediatric care, and stabilize the condition. Many people need psychological support, and therefore, all our staff helps them cope with such problems," said Iryna Tsymbalyuk-Voloshin.
The doctor says he communicates with many parents who have gone abroad.
Most of the children continued their treatment within a few days after leaving. All families are leaving with high hopes of overcoming the disease as soon as possible and returning to a peaceful, independent Ukraine.
Natalia Fedik, a transfusiologist and pediatrician, continues to work on creating a cryobank that will open at the Children's Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic. In addition to providing transfusion and other medical care, actively promotes the organization of evacuation convoys.
"If there is a chance to be useful and help - report all efforts," - said the doctor.
Khrystyna Zapotochna, a pediatric oncologist at the ZUSDMC, lived at work during the first four days of the war. The oncologist prepares the child for departure abroad: he hospitalizes patients, assesses and stabilizes their condition during hospitalization, adjusts tests, and evaluates the treatment and the possibility of transportation.
Vasylyna Garanzha is a young transfusion physician, pediatrician and accompanies evacuation groups from Lviv to the Republic of Poland. At the Unicorn clinic, where ZUSDMC patients come, it helps the families of patients to get used to it. Vasilina still can't forget the mother of a girl with oncology from Kramatorsk - the family was evacuated from the city very quickly, they were able to grab only a small backpack with a few children's things.
Olga Dorosh, Candidate of Medical Sciences, Pediatric Hematologist at ZUSDMC. According to Olga, there are many more patients in the center. And every story is strikingly tragic, because the war has compounded the personal war with the disease in the country, which often destroys opportunities to save children.
Ihor Savchak has been working at the Western Ukrainian Specialized Children's Medical Center for 17 years and combines two positions: pediatric immunologist at the Pediatric Immunology and Rheumatology Clinic and pediatrician at the Admissions Department.
"I used to plan my work - I knew what and when could be done. But after February 24 there is no such possibility. There is a lot of work, a lot of people come at different times, and everyone needs help," said Igor Savchak.
Pediatrician Marta Sheremet knows almost all young patients who come to ZUSDMC from other regions. After all, they get first of all in her reception department.
"Children can come at any time, so night shifts have become more frequent. As a pediatrician, I examine the child before hospitalization and give my recommendations," she explained.
The main task of hematologist Christina Bodak is to provide specialized care to children with blood disorders, mainly myeloblastosis, diagnosis and post-syndrome therapy of patients from other areas, stabilization of the condition, which will allow them to be transported to clinics abroad.
"With the beginning of the war, work began in an unusual format. Children come for a short period, so we have to make quick decisions about the necessary help,” says Ms. Khrystyna.
On February 24, when the Russian aggression began, pediatric nephrologist Roman Andrunevych was in a hurry at the ZUSDMC. On this day, a family (from my mother) kidney transplant was planned for an 11-year-old girl from Poltava. However, already at work, the young doctor learned that the operation was canceled due to enemy invasion.
"We accept patients from other regions, stabilize their condition, provide all necessary medical care. And, of course, we also help organizationally: we prepare reports in different languages, contact doctors from foreign clinics, etc.," he said.
And all this - simultaneously with the work of a nephrologist, who has not disappeared. By the way, the young Poltava residents plan to have a kidney transplant scheduled for February 24 in the coming days.
"These wonderful specialists and incredible people are working to ensure that all those who need it will receive treatment and victory - both in the country and over the disease," - said Elena Zelenskaya.
The International Society of Pediatric Oncology - SIOP, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Tabletochki Foundation, Zaporuka Charitable Foundation, Wings of Hope Charitable Foundation, With an Angel on Your Shoulder Charitable Foundation, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Lviv, Children's Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic, Ukrainian Children's Association Oncology / Hematology, Lviv Regional State Administration, Lviv Regional Council, Ministry of Health of Ukraine.