GRAPHIC PHOTO WARNING: This gallery contains news images from war that some viewers may find disturbing.
A special Medical Forum was held on July 3 as part of the “Doctors for Heroes” project in Kyiv. The live-streamed presentation was designed to inform medical specialists in the field of reconstructive surgery and the public about the organization’s results from the previous four months of clinical work, which began in February.
The “Doctors for Heroes” project has been primarily financed by donations from individuals and businesses in Ukraine. It was launched by the charity foundation Oriental Star, in cooperation with a team of Ukrainian doctors and bioengineers.
The medical mission for the coming years will focus on post-traumatic maxillofacial reconstruction for active members of the military, veterans, and anyone wounded as a result of Russia’s armed aggression.
Ukrainian surgeons, who are pioneering work in the field of Maxillofacial Surgery, gave presentations on their recent and revolutionary achievements. The work focused on the reconstruction of complex head, neck, and facial injuries sustained as a result of combat wounds.
Speakers included Dr. Andriy Kopčak, Professor of Medical Sciences, who detailed innovative technologies and the process for patients in need of complex reconstruction beyond what military hospitals could offer.
“This project originated in response to the challenges that Ukraine is now facing. The number of injured soldiers with wounds to the head and neck is increasing. And there is now an overwhelming number of soldiers who require highly specialized reconstructive surgery.” – Dr. Kopčak
Dr. Igor Fedirko, Chief Maxillofacial Surgery of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, gave a review of the medical help provided to injured soldiers on the battlefield.
“It is unprecedented for one country to have so many people with such extreme problems in less than nine years. The set of circumstances has pushed Ukrainian medical science forward rapidly to master new technologies. It has also forced surgeons to think beyond established procedures, like involving medical engineers early on for their expertise with modeling customized implants from materials like titanium.” – Dr. Fedirko
Dr. Alexander Kurechko explained the stages of care that followed, involving the restoration of lost teeth and physical functions like the ability to eat normally or to smile.
“Any soldier can come to our clinic to receive dental care. We have already provided care to over 500 soldiers in frontline areas.” – Dr. Kurechko
And Danil Prikhodko, leader of the top bioengineering workshop of Ukraine in the field of modeling patient-specific implants using 3D technologies for reconstructions, presented the results of cooperation with Ukrainian surgeons in the treatment of wounded soldiers.
Anya Verkhovskaya, Director of Friends of Be an Angel, outlined funding initiatives at the forum that her humanitarian organization based in Milwaukee was coordinating to help raise awareness and financial resources to pay for the urgent reconstructive procedures.
Two veterans waiting for their reconstructive surgeries also attended, including the wife of one soldier wounded in the Donetsk region. After learning about “Doctors for Heroes,” she was so inspired that she joined the team of volunteers to help raise funds for her husband and other wounded heroes.
Patients receive surgical care free of charge in Ukrainian medical institutions, at the expense of state guarantees provided by the National Health Service of Ukraine. But the cost of individual implants is not covered by the state, which requires the wounded to fundraise in order to cover the significant expenses.
Implants for one patient can vary from $1,000 to $6,000, depending on the complexity of the case. The average cost of modeling and manufacturing implants is under $3,000.
Series: Return to Ukraine
- Return to Ukraine: A trauma loop of travel from Milwaukee to a country still at war a year later
- From Weddings to War: How Kostiantyn and Vlada Liberov photograph Ukraine's daily horrors
- Being Friends of Angels: The Milwaukee nonprofit saving lives and offering hope in Ukraine
- Mayors of Milwaukee and Irpin expand Sister City cooperation after visit by nonprofit delegation
- Interview with Tom Barrett: U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg reflects on forging ties with Irpin
- Wisconsin Ukrainians host annual fundraising picnic to support homeland on 500th day of war
- Advanced Wireless to donate 840 access points to rebuild Irpin's citywide Wi-Fi network
- Children of Irpin begin planning mural for Mitchell Airport to showcase Sister City friendship
- Irpin is not forgotten: Residents thank Milwaukee Independent for reporting on their "Hero City"
- Milwaukee photojournalist on assignment in Kyiv during July 2 Russian drone strike targeting civilians
- Russian cruise missile attack kills residents far from front lines in Western Ukraine city of Lviv
- Ukraine arrests man accused of directing Russian ballistic missile strike on Kramatorsk pizza parlor
- Milwaukee offers Ukrainian refugee family life-saving treatment for son's genetic condition
- Nikita Pirnach: Irpin student hopes to help his country after finishing education in Milwaukee
- Sick children wait for overseas medical treatments as a new generation is born in Ukraine during war
- Iryna Suslova: The superwoman saving Ukrainian children abducted by Russia
- How a group of Ukrainian mothers, wives, and daughters are distributing vital humanitarian aid
- Freeing Freddie: Educational program aims to reduce PTSD for Ukraine's war-weary children
- The trauma of living: When being killed is the preferred choice to being disfigured from battle
- President Zelenskyy offers gratitude and awards to wounded soldiers while visiting Lviv Hospital
- Former Vice President Mike Pence visits Irpin during unannounced campaign trip to Kyiv
- Military Hospitals provide vital care for Ukrainian soldiers in need of hope and healing
- Combat surgeons pioneer advances in maxillofacial reconstruction of Ukraine's injured heroes
- Milwaukee donors cover cost of reconstructive surgery for American volunteer wounded in battle
- In their own words: Listening to the Voices of Children talk about their experiences from war
- Traumatized by War: Children of Ukraine carry on after losing parents, homes, and innocence
- Widespread Torture: U.N. report documents Russia's systematic executions of Ukrainian civilians
- Wisconsin volunteers sort and pack donated medical supplies for use in Ukraine's hospitals
- Lviv warehouse serves as vital link in medical supply chain from Milwaukee to frontlines
- Aid from Milwaukee is providing internally displaced people in Ukraine with food and clothing
- Iryna Pletnyova: How the city of Uman transformed into a hub for refugees fleeing war
- Bombs in the night: Why children in Uman are still traumatized by Russia's missile attack
- School Bunkers: When a national flag becomes a memorial to dead Ukrainian students
- Hasidic life in Uman: A journey across Ukraine to the Tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
- Tetiana Storozhko: Being a witness to the history of Roma culture in Ukraine
- Remembering Oskar Schindler: A photojournalist’s diary from the streets of Jewish Kraków
Milwaukee Independent has reported on Russia’s brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine since it began on February 24, 2022. In May of 2022, Milwaukee Independent was the first news organization from Wisconsin to report from Milwaukee’s Sister City of Irpin after its liberation. That work has since been recognized with several awards for journalistic excellence. Between late June and early July of 2023, Milwaukee Independent staff returned to Ukraine for a second assignment to report on war after almost a year. The editorial team was embedded with a Milwaukee-based nonprofit, Friends of Be an Angel, on a humanitarian aid mission across Ukraine. For several weeks, Milwaukee Independent documented the delivery of medical supplies to military and civilian hospitals, and was a witness to historic events of the war as they unfolded.