Ill Ukrainian Refugee and Her Daughter Are Taken Under Hadassah’s Wing

May 18, 2022

Ill Ukrainian Refugee and Her Daughter Are Taken Under Hadassah’s Wing

When 46-year-old Sveta was given the opportunity to escape from Chernihiv, the beautiful historic Ukrainian town 93 miles northeast of Kyiv, she did not hesitate to take it. Sveta was very ill and she and her 6-year-old daughter Anastasia, whom she calls Nastia, had been living a nightmare, as their town was pummeled by missile fire and bombing raids.

Aside from having diabetes and a heart condition, Sveta had battled a serious case of COVID-19 two months earlier, leaving her with a collapsed lung. Her other lung wasn’t functioning well either. She knew she had to get to a safe haven, away from the fighting, where Nastia would be out of danger and she could receive proper treatment.

After days on the road, Sveta and Nastia crossed the border into Poland and found themselves in the Przemyśl Refugee Center, where, for the past two months, the Hadassah Medical Organization’s Medical Humanitarian Mission has been running a clinic for Ukrainian refugees.

By the time she reached Przemyśl, Sveta was experiencing severe shortness of breath, her legs were very swollen and she was wheelchair-bound. She could not take care of Nastia on her own. Sveta explained to Dr. Wassim Majahed, an emergency medicine specialist with the HMO mission, that she had been unable to take her medications, particularly her diuretic, while on the road because she could not go to the bathroom alone, and there was no one to help her.

When the Hadassah team measured Sveta’s oxygen level, it was at about 70 percent, a dangerously low number. With a lot of complex maneuvering and the help of the social workers of Hadassah’s partner organization, Natan Worldwide Disaster Relief, the Hadassah team was able to locate and borrow oxygen generators to treat Sveta. They were also able to give her the medication she needed to treat her symptoms and stabilize her temporarily.

Because the Przemyśl Refugee Center is a transit facility, where refugees stay for only a day or two before a more permanent location is identified for them, the challenge was what would Sveta and Nastia do in the meantime. Sveta needed to be hospitalized as soon as possible, but her daughter could not go to the hospital with her, and they did not have any relatives, friends or acquaintances that Sveta could ask to take care of Nastia. Nor could Sveta leave Nastia alone in the refugee center. Not only would that be unsafe, but also Polish regulations don’t allow it, and Polish social services would have taken Nastia away.

Hadassah International staff reached out to the Polish contacts who have been helping the Hadassah mission. Together, they were able to find a shelter near Warsaw for mothers and children run by a very generous Polish Foundation. The shelter, with 30 beds, typically houses survivors from Bucha, the city near Kyiv where Russian troops massacred a large proportion of the city’s residents. Though the shelter was at full capacity, they secured a place for Sveta and her daughter.

Hadassah’s Polish friends also made sure that Sveta would receive the essential medical care she needed at a hospital near the shelter.

By the time Sveta was admitted to the hospital, her medical situation had evolved to the point of being life threatening. She had infected fluid in her lungs and needed emergency surgery. Fortunately, the surgery proved successful and Sveta is on the mend. The people at the shelter are taking care of Nastia while her mother recovers in the hospital.

Thanks to Hadassah and their Polish partners, Sveta and Nastia have found their safe haven.

No items found.