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Austrian surgeon saves Ukrainian lives

The Local · 12 Dec 2014, 09:16

Published: 12 Dec 2014 09:16 GMT+01:00

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The orthopedic institute in Kiev this week welcomed a special guest from Austria.  Professor Werner Girsch is one of the many medical professionals from around the world who have volunteered to provide their skills in support of Ukraine. Professor Girsch came to this hospital in order to operate on soldiers who have been wounded in Eastern Ukraine whilst fighting against the region's on-going Russian backed-insurgency.

Volodymyr Solohub, Ukraine Today reporter: "This surgery has been lasting for four hours now. The Austrian surgeon is operating alongside his Ukrainian colleagues. He's not making breaks for lunch and will be operating non-stop for the next four days."

This visit was organized by the charitable fund ‘International Association for the Support of Ukraine', which is one of a number of volunteer groups helping to coordinate international efforts to aid Ukraine as it struggles against Kremlin aggression.

Olga Durbak Chuiko, International Association for the Support of Ukraine:"We started helping the heavily wounded – at first Euromaidan protesters, now soldiers wounded in Eastern Ukraine – to get quality medical treatment, if needed, in Western European countries and in the US."

As the number of wounded soldiers grew, they realized it would be best to bring the Western doctors to the Ukrainian patients and not vice versa.

And while Dr. Girsch is operating we spoke to his assistant about the types of surgeries which are being performed on the Ukrainian soldiers:

Olha Latikaynen, Coordinator for Speising Orthopedic Hospital: "Docent Girsch provides orthopedic surgeries for reconstructing bones, reconstructing muscles and nerves. The task is to perform the reconstructions using the body's own material. For example, taking a piece of bone from the leg and implanting it in the arm. Maybe we can talk to a special patient, you know. A patient who I'm connected with in a really special way, you know. This was the first case where we got treatment possibility for a Ukrainian guy."

Andriy shows us where the bullet hit him when he was in the center of Kiev on February the 20th during the Euromaidan protests. In March he was moved to Vienna, where he spent almost three months in the hospital under the watchful eye of Dr. Girsch.

Andriy Solovyov, Euromaidan protestor: "In Austria they transplanted joints, nerves and bones. They cut sections from my leg and transplanted them into my forearm."

While Andriy is still waiting his turn on the operating table, Leonid is already recovering from surgery. He was the first patient of Dr. Girsch today. Leonid was wounded back in May near Slovyansk in Eastern Ukraine. Ever since then, he has been treated in various hospitals and has undergone numerous surgeries.

Leonid Hryshyn, Ukrainian special forces fighter: "I hope that this particular surgery is the last one and after this surgery, thanks to the doctors, I'll be back on my feet."

Leonid is also happy to have been operated on by a team of doctors which included Dr. Girsch:

Leonid Hryshyn, Ukrainian special forces fighter: "The surgeons here are very good. But two heads are better than one. Therefore I find it very beneficial. I'm even very happy that it all worked out like this."

Story continues below…

After all the surgeries planned for the day were completed, we managed to talk to Dr. Girsch, who was quick to praise his Ukrainian colleagues:

"The colleagues here from the department of microsurgery are very skilled. They have an international level of skill. And I have to say that the facilities in the OR are basic, but it's good enough to do even a demanding surgery", said Girsch.

And doing as many demanding surgeries as possible is the main goal of Dr. Girsch here in Kiev. He says he wants to give wounded Ukrainian soldiers not only hope, but also a real chance to make full recovery.

Reprinted by kind permission from Ukraine Today.

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