Fifteen years ago, a devastating fire caused by a faulty chimney in a small rural Ukrainian home brought a five-year-old girl named Nastya face to face with a life-threatening ordeal. As the flames raged, Nastya bravely attempted to extinguish the fire with soft toys and her bare hands, and she rescued her younger sister from the smoke-filled house. However, Nastya suffered severe third-degree burns covering 80% of her body. In most low- to mid-income countries, such injuries prove fatal. Fate intervened. Nastya’s life was saved when she was flown to Shriners Hospital in Boston for critical care. Today, Nastya is a healthy young woman with a promising future, a testament to the power of compassion and expertise. Sadly, many other children in Ukraine are not as fortunate.
Ukraine witnesses over 40,000 burn accidents annually, with approximately 10,500 involving children. The cost of treating such injuries, along with the lifelong disabilities and disfigurements they often leave behind, can plunge patients and their families deeper into poverty.
Doctors Collaborating to Help Children
For over twelve years, the UNWLA has championed the “Doctors Collaborating to Help Children” (DCTHC) initiative led by Dr. Hennadiy Fuzaylov. Traditionally, the mission took place in Ukraine, but due to the Russian war in Ukraine, it was forced to relocate to Poland. Firstly, it sought to offer specialized medical treatment to Ukrainian children with life-threatening burn injuries, including surgeries, wound care, and rehabilitation. Secondly, it aimed to enhance the knowledge and expertise of the medical staff accompanying the children and their families from Ukraine through training programs and workshops. Months of planning, coordination, and fundraising ensured the mission had the necessary supplies, equipment, and personnel to deliver comprehensive care. Under the guidance of Dr. Gennadiy Fuzaylov, a pediatric anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGA) and assistant professor at Harvard University, this initiative has brought together physicians from MGA, Shriners Burns Institute in Boston, and other specialists from around the USA to provide state-of-the-art burn treatment and education to Ukrainian hospitals. The mission’s focus was not only on physical healing but also on addressing the complex psychological needs of pediatric burn patients. Surgeries were conducted meticulously with a team of experts guiding them to restore functionality and minimize scarring. Advanced wound care techniques and dressings were employed to accelerate healing. Additionally, the mission prioritized providing psychological support, acknowledging the emotional impact of burn injuries on the affected children, their families, and communities.
Treating Pediatric Burn During the Russian War in Ukraine
In May 2023, Dr. Fuzaylov, a renowned pediatric burn specialist, led a mission to Poland supported by the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA). The mission aimed to provide critical care and relief to Ukrainian children affected by burn injuries. Collaborating with medical professionals from various countries, they have brought hope and healing to 19 young lives so far. To support the Pediatric Burn Mission, please visit www.unwla.org/donate.