The director of Ukraine’s largest childhood cancer foundation said a tireless effort by volunteers, doctors and government officials in Ukraine and abroad was needed to put the children on cancer treatment out of harm’s way during the Russian invasion.
Yuliya Nogovitsyna, Director of Program Development at Tabletochkitold CNN on Wednesday that evacuating patients to western Ukraine – and then to neighboring countries – “was a kind of ‘Mission: Impossible’.”
“From the first days of the war, we tried to evacuate children from the biggest hospitals. We took them in quite large groups and looked for buses or wagons to bring them to Lviv,” Nogovitsyna said.
“It was very difficult and difficult because it was almost impossible to find a means of transport to move these children.”
Many of the children were in “serious conditions”, Nogovitsyna said, some with low blood counts or fever. find the solution.”
Lviv and other parts of western Ukraine are not close to the front lines of the Russian invasion, but have faced missile attacks, which “did not stop us from evacuating children when the city was hit, she said.
“It just demonstrated that you can’t be safe anywhere in Ukraine. And wherever the children are, they have to be taken out of the country for safety reasons,” she said. .
Nogovitsyna hailed the parents, saying they were “determined to save their children” and bravely faced the “double threat” of not only coping with their child’s cancer diagnosis, but also knowing that their lives could be lost due to interruption of treatment or be fatally injured by Russian bombardment.
A team of psychologists, volunteers and international partners such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are assisting and providing updates to families in Ukraine as children are transported to care centers in other countries , she said.
Her organization has received guarantees from overseas hospitals that the children will be able to stay for the full duration of their treatment even if the war ends soon, she said. And rebuilding collapsed health systems would be the next step.
“As soon as Ukraine wins this war and peace is restored, we want to rebuild the Ukrainian pediatric oncology ward,” Nogovitsyna said, “and make it even better than it was before the war.”