Doctors Evacuate ill Children As Russia Pounds Ukraine Further - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Friday, March 4, 2022

Doctors Evacuate ill Children As Russia Pounds Ukraine Further

•Medical staff keep watch over the terminally on the way to Poland— not to save them but to allow them to die with dignity knowing they are now safe. (AnneClaire Stapleton/CNN)

The Daily Crucible | Saturday, March 5, 2022

Terminally flee war-torn Kharkiv on makeshift medical train

The medical team is not entirely sure what to expect as the train creaks to a stop in the darkness near the Ukraine-Polish border, just inside Ukraine. A bus' headlights inch forward. Eugenia Szuszkiewicz can feel the anxiety balling up in her stomach.

The doctor's stress levels are through the roof. This is a dangerous journey for children who need palliative care in the best of circumstances. Now 12 of them are doing it in a war.

Small and frail bodies are hoisted up for the last time in weary mothers' arms as they descend from the bus. Some are gently handed over to waiting doctors and nurses. For others, their health is too delicate and requires extra help to safely transport them on to the train, which will take them to Poland.

The medical staff hope to prevent any of the children from experiencing even more pain — emotionally or physically. One of the child's health is in such bad condition that doctors tell us that he may not survive the journey.

Eleven of the 12 came from hospices around Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, once known for having the best palliative care in the country. Now it's one of the country's most bombed areas, with Russian forces targeting residential areas there over the last week, hitting civilian infrastructure such as schools, shops, hospitals, apartment blocks and churches.

For days, Szuszkiewicz — a pediatrician and palliative care specialist — fielded phone calls from desperate parents of children stuck the Kharkiv area. The parents' plea for help came as bombs fell around them. One mother screamed that without a ventilator and pain killers, her child would die.

"I could only tell her if she found a way to Lviv (in western Ukraine) then I would be able to help her," Szuszkiewicz tells us, tears streaming down her face and her voice catching.

She still doesn't know if the mother and child are alive.


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