Testimony of those who returned from captivity
Orest Mykhailovych Hrytsyuk, born on December 17, 1988 in the city of Netishyn, Khmelnytskyi region. He is a psychologist by education. Since 2017, he joined the ranks of the patrol police, worked as a psychologist. Orest is a very sensitive person with an high sense of justice, he is ready to help anyone in need. One day he decided to help children with severe forms of oncology, so he became a regular visitor to the Okhmatdyt center, where he was a monthly donor of platelet concentrate and whole blood. In June 2021, he resigned from the ranks of the police and continued to develop in his profession. At the beginning of the full-scale invasion by Russia, he actively tried to be useful and help in everything he could. At first, he enrolled in the ranks of the Territorial Defense of the city of Netishyna, and later in April 2022 he already served in the ranks of the Armed Forces. The desire to save human lives and the skills of tactical medicine gave him the opportunity to serve as a senior combat medic. In the summer, he went with the unit to the zone of active hostilities in the Donetsk direction to rescue people. Orest and his comrades were everywhere, both in the positions and in the trenches and in rare moments of rest. I remember how I received a photo from him with the caption “in between my actions at the position, I try to rest, but first I go to give injections to my falcons”, that’s how he called his comrades. The guys who were with him said that they were lucky to know Orest and to have a medical psychologist in the unit in the same person. Orest has an amazing ability to attract people, everyone who knows him or has met him at least once in his life will remember him and speak of him as a wonderful, bright and incredibly energetic person. The last conversation on the phone was on August 7, on the eve of our wedding anniversary. He called because he was not sure if there would be a connection later, because the situation in his direction was very difficult, the enemy was shelling the positions with everything they had. A short conversation about how we love each other, how we love our son and how we all look forward to the day when we can be together again. And then there was silence for a few days…..and on August 15, 2022, he contacted his parents and said “I am alive. I am in captivity.” Our struggle for Orest began from that day. A bunch of instances, letters, bureaucratic red tape……and all this has been going on for 9 long months. The only thing that helps not to lose one’s mind is the belief that we will surely bring him home, we will hug him again, the son will see his father again. And also the stories of the discharged servicemen, that Orest will help the boys even in the conditions of captivity, is comforting.
Orest returned home on April 26, 2023 as part of the exchange of military prisoners of war
Oleksandr Borisovych Teteryatnikov. Born on September 2, 1977
From 31.03.2015 – Olekasndr is contracted military solider in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He was an ambulance driver in a military hospital.
With his courage, experience, concentration and ability to quickly make decisions and react to difficult situations, he saved the lives of hundreds, if not thousands.
On February 24, he was sent to Mariupol from surgery and treatment in a hospital in the city of Dnipro. Being surrounded in Mariupol, survived during the missile attack on the hospital. On April 12, he was taken in captivity by russian troops. He was able to wright just a few text messages to his wife.
There was no news or any response from him. His wife and daughter are waiting for him to come back
Dmytrykovskii Igor Olegovich. Story from a wife..
In 2018, Igor signed a contract with the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
In 2019, I left maternity leave and transferred from Zaporizhia to the Mariupol Motorized Infantry Brigade.
I hardly saw my husband, because his battalion is constantly on combat missions, I am in Mariupol with my child. He was at home for about 2-3 months a year.
In 2021, my contract expired and I signed a new one with the Command of the Medical Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the position of command officer.
In February 2022, a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine began.
On February 21, my husband and I were summoned to our military units due to a combat alert.
During the full-scale invasion, we met with husband via face time.
At the beginning of March, their air defense was destroyed by the Russian aggressor. He came and talked to my commander and the commander left him in the reinforced hospital.
We felt the first shelling at the hospital in the end of February. And on March 16, the Russian Federation launched a bomb on the intensive care unit. When these bombings took place, I was at the sorting area where the wounded were brought. The commanders decided to relocate to the territory of the Ilyicha plant. They took all the wounded, medical equipment, medicines, rear support with them. An operating room was opened at the new location. The conditions were very difficult. In some places, the personnel rested on the floor, because the priority was the wounded.
In mid-March, the number of wounded and injured people increased significantly. There were times when they did not sleep for several days. But they did everything in their power to rescue people. Sometimes the doctors did not sleep at all. The hospital worked 24/7 in the literal sense of this understanding.
There were no bunkers like in Azovstal. We settled in basements. But even here we had to change our location all the time, because we were bombarded all the time, and the enemy was already entering the territory of the plant.
Igor carried the wounded with his own hands, because there were no stretchers, the wounded lay on them. Stretchers were placed on 2 benches and there were beds for them so that they did not lie on the floor.
The personnel rested, when there was time, on the boxes, on the floor. Igor got a hernia while carrying people. We didn’t have a stretcher, so he carried the wounded in his arms. Carry them with you to the basement. There was no living space on the feet. I gave him compresses with betadine so that they would sum up the wounds. Our surgeon told me to do it. Then there was captivity…
Igor’s wife was returned from captivity. But he is still there.
Igor returned home on April 26, 2023 as part of the exchange of military prisoners of war
Reshitnyk Ostap Hryhorovych, born on December 12, 1988. In the city of Lviv After finishing school, he went to military service. During his service, he realized that he wanted to devote his life to the state. Therefore, in 2009, he signed a contract to serve in the Armed Forces. Since 2014, he has been on rotations in the east of our country as part of mobile hospitals and mobile san-epid groups. As a sanitary instructor, he helped our military. On February 18, 2022, without any doubts, he went on rotation again. He was sent to 555 Mariupol Hospital. Since the beginning of the invasion of the aggressor state, the daughter and son have hardly heard from their father. And since 1.03, they have completely lost contact. The last information we knew about our father was 04/03/2022. It was a message “alive and healthy.” There is no connection” a few weeks later we learned that our father was captured. After seeing the photo on Telegram channels. He was taken prisoner from the Illich plant along with all the other doctors. From that moment there was only silence and silence. No information, no news. Knocking on all possible doors… Unfortunately, it also turned out to be fruitless. 10 months of captivity – 10 months of silence.
Andrii Nayman, born in 1992. – neurologist, head of the neurological department of the 555th military hospital.
Even from childhood, Andriy knew exactly who he would be in the future and confidently went towards it. When, after graduating from the lyceum in Kyiv, it was time to decide on a higher educational institution, he chose the National Medical University named after O.O. Bogomolets, where he studied at the faculty of training doctors for the Armed Forces of Ukraine until 2016. For the next two years, he studied at the Ukrainian Military Medical Academy. Andriy was always proud of the title of doctor, he never questioned his choice.
Since 2018, he served in Mariupol. When the 555th garrison was created on the basis of the 61st mobile hospital, he headed the neurological department. He provided medical assistance to both military personnel and the civilian population.
On February 24, 2022, when the full-scale offensive began, he was in the hospital. On the first day, he already understood the conditions how he would have to work, there was no option to run away or break oath.
At every opportunity, Andrii tried to get in touch, he never said how difficult it was. “Alive, working” this phrase has always been enough.
When, as a result of an airstrike on the hospital, the building was destroyed. All the medical personnel, together with the wounded, divided into two groups. In the part of one of group, Andriy joined the Ukrainian military at Azovstal.
Every day we lived waiting for a message from him, 24/7 we tried to find more information in the news.
Until May 18, 2022, under constant airstrikes, artillery shelling, during factory storms, in inhumane conditions, in an improvised hospital, together with colleagues, they provided medical aid to the wounded. Under the constant attempts to destroy them from sea, air and land, – they continued to do more than seems possible.
After leaving Azovstal by order of the command, Andriy is still in Russian captivity.
If I could, I wouldn’t change a thing, because my son rescued people. His mother, Fedora Hnativna, told us about Oleksandr Nagovitsyn, a 29-year-old military doctor from Mariupol, who is still in captivity.
From early childhood, Sasha said: “When I grow up, mom, I’ll be a doctor.” I was only wondering about myself, because, we didn’t have doctors neither in family nor among friends.
All his conscious life he dreamed of becoming a doctor. After school, despite the brilliantly passed exams, the son did not enter a medical university. But this did not affect his desire in any way – he went to a medical college, and after his graduation he already entered a medical university. After university, he entered the military medical academy. He informed us – I will be a military doctor.
After graduating from the Academy, he was assigned to the position of chief of the medical service of one of the military units. In 2021, he was seconded for additional staffing in 36 brigade. There he met the war.
Our communication with our son while he was in Mariupol was unusual. I wrote him long texts, in response I received a one “plus” or two. When he got to Azovstal from Ilyicha, he generally sent a photo where he was sewing up a wound with the caption: “Ma, my dream came true, I became a field surgeon.” Boys and girls call me from almost every prisoner’s exchange, support me, say that my Sasha, rescued hundreds and hundreds of people. His driver said that they stopped keeping a list of evacuees from the battlefield. That is, my child rescued 400 people. I believe that each of us has our own purpose. His job is to rescue people. Mine is to wait every second for my son from captivity.
All the doctors who are currently in captivity and those who were there are real Heroes of today. Future generations of Ukrainians – a free, unconquered nation – will emulate them. After all, they rescued others at the cost of their own freedom. My son has been in captivity for more than 263 days. 263 mornings I wake up and dream of forgetting. I dream not to dream and not to feel. I dream of hearing those cherished words: “Mom, it’s me. I’m home.”
I pray every second for the return of our Mariupol medics.
Oleksandr returned home on April 10, 2023 as part of the exchange of military prisoners of war
Mezey Volodymyr Ivanovich was born on February 24, 1975 in the family of military personnel. Since childhood, he wanted to become a doctor, so in 1990 he entered the Berdychiv Medical School, majoring in paramedics, which he graduated in 1994. In 1995, he entered the Kyiv Medical Institute of Folk Medicine, majoring in dentistry, in 1996 he transferred to the Kharkiv Medical University, which he graduated in 2000. Since his father was a military man, he also decided to become a military doctor, and continued his studies at the Kyiv Military Medical Academy from 2000 to 2002.
Since 2002, he served in the 62nd mechanized brigade as a medical company doctor. In 2004, he was transferred to the 95th aeromobile brigade to the position of head of the stomat. office
From 2005 to 2006, he participated in the UN peacekeeping mission (Liberia, Africa). From 2006 to 2010, he served in the 95th air mobile brigade as the chief of the stomatology office.
Since 2010, he has been appointed chief of the surgical stomatology office of the Southern Region.
At the time of 24.02.2022, he was on a business trip and was seconded to the 555 Mariupol hospital, on 24.02.2022 the business trip was completed, and on that date he had tickets for a train to Odessa, but he was not able to leave (((And the saddest thing is on this day it was Volodya’s birthday, he was supposed to go home to celebrate (((But(((
After the hospital was destroyed, he got to Azovstal, and from there he was taken prisoner with everyone approximately between May 17 and 20.
During the nine months of captivity, he never called, but on his birthday, his mother received a gift – a letter from her son, in which he writes that everything is fine, he is holding on.
His family has not seen Volodya for a year and a half, and so much look forward to his return..(((
Kolosinskyi Andrii Volodymyrovych was born on September 9, 1994 in the family of doctors Volodymyr and Oksana. After graduating from school in 2012, he entered the Ternopil State Medical University, and in 2018 – the Ukrainian Military Medical Academy. He chose to specialize in anesthesiology. Since June 2021, he served as a resident of the Department of Anesthesiology, Intensive Care and Intensive Care at the Mariupol Military Hospital. Since February 24, 2022, he provided medical assistance to wounded/injured servicemen and civilians. Dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of patients were admitted to the Mariupol military hospital every day, complex surgical interventions were performed, so Andrii and his colleagues had to work in dangerous conditions under constant fire from aircraft, artillery and other types of weapons. After another aerial bombardment on March 16, 2022, the hospital was destroyed. Andriy, together with part of the doctors of hospital No. 555, moved to the “Azovstal” plant, where they continued to provide medical assistance to the wounded and injured. Conditions at the factory were difficult: limited supplies of food, drinking water, and a minimal amount of medicine. Andriy with his wife Nina and colleagues worked around the clock, without rest, and sometimes without sleep at all. Despite life-threatening conditions, constant exhaustion and fatigue, they provided qualified medical care until May 18, 2022, when they were captured. During Andrii’s stay in captivity, the family received a letter dated November 2, 2022. Since then, there is no information about his health and condition. His wife Nina, parents and old grandmother are waiting for Andrii at home.
Klochikhin Kostyantyn Mykhailovych, born on March 19, 1981. Since childhood, he dreamed of a microscope and wanted to be a doctor. In 2004, he graduated from the Zaporizhia State Medical University, in 2004-2006 he graduated from the specialization of general surgery. He worked in a prosthetic company. Since 2016, he became a doctor at the medical center of the National Guard military unit 3033, where he treated servicemen. Business trips to Mariupol and other places of the were the norm. But the latter became a trap for Konstantin. He went on this business trip on December 13, 2021, nothing foreshadowed trouble, but he seemed to feel it. He really didn’t want to go on this business trip. Since February, he often talked to his son about the war and the possibility of its beginning, saying that the Russian side was provoking. On February 24, he met in Volnovaha. At 04:15 he called and said that the …….. invasion had begun. I couldn’t believe it, as at the same moment the first explosion rang out in Zaporizhzhia. The very next day, they were transferred to Mariupol. He occasionally called and texted once every three days that he was alive. In one of the text messages, he wrote how they drove around the city in an ambulance under the cover of night without headlights and collected the wounded. Then the connection was lost, he did not call or write. But on April 12, 2022, at 03:15 at night, my son received an SMS – “I love you.” After that there was no information, complete silence, ignorance and misunderstanding… two weeks later we found out that he was captured along with the wounded soldiers and the 555th hospital.. And again there was complete silence. On May 26, the phone rang with an unknown number and it was Kostya, who said that he was alive, his arms and legs were intact and he was in captivity. It was a whole conversation in 15 seconds, but it seemed that nothing could be more important than the call. Then there was another call, where we managed to find out that he was in Olenivka. And again complete silence. Only the fighters leaving the exchanges confirmed his location. And so until today Kostya did not get in touch. Already 10 months of captivity and 1.2 years of business trip.
Zagrebelnyi Serhii Petrovich, born on March 20, 1975, head of the economic department of military hospital 555. He was born in the city of Mariupol, Donetsk region.
In 2017, he signed a contract with the Armed Forces of Ukraine and began to perform official duties in a mobile hospital, as a driver of the automobile department. For exemplary service, responsibility and leadership qualities, he was appointed to the position of senior driver in a mobile hospital, and later to the position of head of the economic department in the Mariupol Military Hospital. He not only organized, but also personally participated in the evacuation of sick and wounded military personnel and the civilian population of the city of Mariupol.
From 24.02.2022, during the conduct of hostilities around and directly in the city of Mariupol – the point of permanent deployment of the A1249 military unit, he performed tasks not only in the hospital, but also in various city hospitals of the city of Mariupol, where the medical and nursing brigades of the unit were located, which provided medical aid to wounded servicemen and the city’s civilian population.
On March 16, 2022, the hospital was destroyed after an aerial bombardment, so the personnel were partially moved to underground storage facilities on the territory of several factories.
On April 12, 2022, he was captured by the aggressor state from the metallurgical plant named after Illich of the city of Mariupol, Donetsk region.
Since April 12, 2022, the family has had no contact with him.
From the words of the released co-servicemen, it became known that on April 12, 2022, they, together with Serhii, were captured by Russian servicemen. From 04/12/2022 to 04/14/2022, they were in the sorting center for prisoners of war in the village of Sartan of the Donetsk region, then from 04.14.2022 to 04.19.2022 they were in the colony in Olenivka and saw him there.
His familiy are waiting for him at home.
Didukh Vladislav Serhiyovych was born on November 11, 1993 in Zaporizhzhia near the Sea of Azov. After the ninth grade, he entered the Ivan Bohun Kyiv Military Lyceum. After graduating from the lyceum, he entered the O.O. Bogomolets National Medical University at the Faculty of Training Doctors for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. After graduating from the university, he continued his studies at the Ukrainian Military Medical Academy. After the first year, he got a medical internship at the 555th Mariupol hospital, where he really liked working. After graduating from the academy, he decided on Mariupol, where after a year of work, he headed the hospital department of the hospital. Vladyslav loves his profession very much, in the fall of 2021 he graduated from cardiology courses. After their hospital was bombed, they were transferred to the Ilyicha metallurgical plant, from where he was captured. The last information the family has is that he called from captivity on June 8, and there was no further contact with him.
Ivan Mykolayovych Demkiv is from Lviv Oblast, born on July 7, 1982.
He graduated from Lviv National Medical University of Danylo Halytsky, and devoted many years of his life to studying medicine. For several years he worked as a civilian doctor, but with the beginning of hostilities in the east of the country, doctors were greatly needed in military medicine, that’s how Ivan later became a military doctor.
February 24, 2022, Ivan met at the 555 Military Hospital of Mariupol, where he worked as the head of traumatology, leading surgeon. But he had already been practically living at work for several weeks before this day, working in an intensified mode. Events from that day began to develop very quickly, the wounded increased every minute. Later, the whole city turned into one big military hospital. The wounded were placed in all possible hospitals, Ivan organized the work of it, where he made complex surgeries and amputations. But the war always followed by their steps… They had to evacuate all the equipment, personnel and patients, look for a new safe place to save people. The circle was narrowing, in the middle of March 2022 there was no longer a single undestroyed hospital left in the city, as well as places for hiding. The last shelter for Ivan, other doctors and many wounded was the Ilyicha plant. There, in inhumane conditions and under constant shelling, doctors were still able to organize conditions for the accommodation of people who needed aid and even an operating theater where they worked day and night without rest.
But, unfortunately, they were all captured on April 12 from the Ilyicha factory.
Ivan himself, who has been in prison for almost a year, needs help now.
We learned about the captivity from various sources, there are also several videos with Ivan in captivity.
Children, wife and mother are waiting for him at home.
Thousands of lives were rescued by the team of doctors at the Ilyicha plant by providing help in time. We are begging the society to help free the doctors.
Ivan returned home on April 26, 2023 as part of the exchange of military prisoners of war
Galkin Volodymyr Valentinovych, born on June 11, 1985. After the occupation of his native city of Donetsk, he moved to Mariupol and joined the ranks of deminers of the international company Nalo Trast. There he obtained the education of a paramedic.
After the start of the full-scale invasion, without any hesitation he joined the 109th Brigade of the Military Intelligence Service as a senior combat medic of the 107th battalion. During his stay in Mariupol, he was able to call his relatives only a few times. There were practically no opportunities for him to communicate regularly. Volodymyr last spoke to his family on March 13, 2022. Then he and his relatives promised each other to be strong and definitely wait for the meeting. They believed that it would happen very soon.
On March 29, his colleague wrote that Volodymyr was alive and ok. And then several weeks of absolute silence. And only on April 17, his relatives learned that he was captured.
For this, almost a year, only 2 letters were received from him, which were handed over by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross back in August 2022. They said that he was in the territory of the Russian Federation. His relatives did not receive any more news or calls, and no actual information about his health.
Unfortunately, not everyone could wait for Volodymyr at home. His father died on April 8, and he most likely does not even know about it. He and his father were extremely close.
Boldetskyi Denys Anatoliiovych was born on January 29, 1989. Upon graduating from high school, he entered Kotov Medical School, majoring in “Nursing”. After earning his degree, Denys joined the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on contract and started working in Odesa Military Medical Clinical Center in Southern region as a Surgical Ward Nurse. He dedicated 14 years helping people through his work. In spring 2021, he made the decision to transfer to Mariupol Military Hospital №555 as a Trauma Nurse. On February 24, 2022, Denys was at work. After a while, he informed his family that he and his comrades were at Azovstal. On May 18, 2022, he was captured as a prisoner of war. There has been no notice from Denys since then. Awaiting him at home are his son Oleksands (one and a half y.o.), wife Liliia, parents, and friends.
Sorry, translation in progress… But you can always use Google Translate.
Що відбувалося в Маріупольському військовому шпиталі? хто там знаходився?
Весь наш медичний персонал який знаходився по штатке, на свому постійному місті дислокування. Операційні вже було розгорнуто, спущено вниз. Це було організовано так як там мало бути, як могло бути в тих умовах що були.
Ти хочеш сказати що ніхто з лікарів, медсестр не втік і не злякався обстрілів?
Це вже потім відбулося, це вже після того як попадання було в Нептун – це новесенький басейн тоже все по великому будівництво було зроблено, все классно, все для людей було зроблено! Тобто все красиве розбомбили відразу майже? І друга бомба одразу попала в наш госпиталь біля Нептуна, одразу раз – басейн, два- наш госпіталь.
Як ти опинився в кардіо центрі? Тебе переведено було туди з військового госпіталя?
-Командир визначив мене щоб я розгортав хірургічне відділення в кардіо центрі, так зване БСМП в місті Маріуполі.
Чому ви не могли бути усі в військовому шпиталі чому в БСМП ти поїхав?
-Була дуже велика кількість поранених і не тільки військових але і цивільного населення.
Приїхали ми в кардіоцентр, я, терапевт і медбрат – 3 людини, 3 військових.
Анестезіолога, я вже розумію, не було? – ні там не було.
Анестезіологи були потрібні в військовому шпиталі. Була розрахована на те, що я зкомунікую з цивільним населенням і цивільне населення буде мені допомагати.
Я розумію, що я змогу знайти спільну мову з багатьма людьми але з ким там було говорити? там всі повтікали нікого не лишилося, одиниці. І працював по факту 1 лікар-анестезіолог – інтерн. Інтерн! Який був і на відмінно справився зі своєю задачею, Від військових до дітей чи то пенсіонери були, чи то були вагітні, Немає різниці він робив все від загального наркозу і все. Я йому казав, ти зможешь!
Денис, Гайдук, а тобі хто казав не бійся, роби, оперуй? Ти ж напевно стикався з випадками з якими ти не стикався ніколи?
Цю дань можу віддати тільки провідному хірург ЗСУ – Констянтину Гуманюку – полковнику медичної служби, це людина яка дійсно на своєму місті, він чудова людина, найкращий мотиватор, організатор. Він вміє підготувати спеціалістів, організувати людей. Ми с нім спілкувались.
Йому дзвонив, запитую що робити? Ти виснажений, Ти вже вигорів, тобі тільки одної Волновахи за 3 дні хватило, такой поток пацієнтів був, це жах. Смерть переслідує тебе кругом, там 200, там 300, там знов 200. Вигружають машину – знизу 200 випадають зверху 300х витягують. Спочатку були Богданчики а потім вже пожежними машинами привозили. Ви тільки вдумайтесь в кількість?
– я не можу її осягнути..
– і я тоже.
– Я не хочу зараз порівнювати з Бучею та Ірпінь але якщо було місто смерті то воно було в Маріуполі.
Як ви працювали і оперували коли продовжувалися обстріли? Чи в підвалі не дуже чутно Поясни мені ці моменти? Ти в Мариуполе в кардиоцентре у тебе Безкінечний потік людей, чи ти наскільки зосереджений на операції Що для тебе нічого не існує? як це? але ж ти мега втомлений? Тобто як твоя увага і твої руки продовжують працювати, різати?
– Спочатку тобі начебто страшно ну страх повинен бути, Це інстинкт самозбереження, Ну не повинно бути паніки, головне це не панікувати, мати змогу собою володіти.
Після кардіоцентру, як з’явився наказ і ідея всім рушити в Азовсталь? Ти розумів як будете ви пересуватися – ви військові, ви хірурги, військові яких ти рятував – що все стечеться врешті-решт туди? як це відбувалося?
дивиться, зв’язку не було, зв’язок по раціям також подавляли, наш терапевт був відправлений туди, ми його в основном відправляли щоб він коммунікував з нашим керівництвом госпіталю. Мається на увазі що до того вже було сказано що вот буде момент коли потрібно буде звідти нам все-таки виїхати. Місто в осаді, через два квартали друга обласна лікарня, вона вже повністю розтрілюється. Прийшов наказ, Влад приїхав і сказав що завтра мі будемо скоріш за все збиратися, потім якимось чином ми вийшли все ж таки по рації на зв’язок – нам сказали – Зараз будут автобуси вони вже біля вас. Швиденько всіх військових які були по поверхах зібрали, начали евакуйовувати в автобуси, грузили.
Також я вже розумів, а куди ми далі поїдимо? Ну я взяв пару матрасів, хлопців треба було десь розмістити.
Потім Денис потрапить до заводу Азовсталь, і звідти буде захоплений у полон росіянами. Під час обміну 29 жовтня він повернеться додому.
We provided medical care around the clock, there was almost no time for rest. The hospital was one of the few medical institutions that functioned. We accepted everyone – military, civilians, children, women, elderly people. Although before the start of the full-scale war, we constantly worked with the wounded, but no one expected such a number of patients. In connection with a significant increase in surgical activity and dangerous working conditions, it was necessary to reorganize the work of the hospital. The number of beds was maximally expanded, and the number of operating tables was increased. About 85% of the hospital staff were involved in working with the wounded, regardless of the specifics of their work, before the start of the full-scale war. We made all possible and impossible to rescue as many people as possible.
Nina was captured by the Russians while leaving the Azovstal plant. She was returned home during the exchange on October 17, 2022.
On February 22, we were gatheredby alarm. And we have already started living in the hospital, without going home. We had barracks regime. But no information was given that there would be an invasion. It all started on February 24, and it was very intense. We had to be ready to receive wounded patients. Therefore, from February 24, an intensive reception of wounded soldiers, civilians, adults, and children began. And we started to provide help to everyone. How did we start working? Very cohesive. This adrenaline… We had one operating room and two operating rooms: a smaller one (with one table) and a larger one (with two tables). In general, we have a two-stored building, so they began to open operating rooms on the first floor. So we had 4 operating theaters and another intensive care ward, where we took difficult patients already after surgery. And the rest of the patients are sent to the surgical department for nursing care. It was just a colossal amount of work. There were a lot of wounded. We didn’t count for sure, but it was more than 40 wounded in a day. And mostly these were severe wounds – mine-explosive injuries, limb amputations, wounds to the stomach, chest, and head. It was something terrible. When there was a second and the girls and I could talk somewhere, we had the impression that they just wanted to drown us in blood. There were so many wounded and the amount of work was so terrible that it is simply impossible to describe in words. But everyone worked very, very unitedly. Each of us knew his scope of work and everything was done very quickly. The hospital has not very wide corridors, not very large rooms, but there was a huge number of people there. And everything had to be done quickly – bring it in, take it out, put it down, place it, pick it up. The team is just great. There were more than 100 people from the hospital. From the surgical staff with the anesthesiology service, with nurses and doctors – somewhere up to 40 people. Civilian doctors also joined us. They came from different hospitals and helped us. They helped a lot. These are nurses, surgeons, and anesthesiologists. However, there were not enough hands because there were many operating tables. We needed more doctors and nurses than we had. I don’t remember the exact date when it happened, it was sometime after March 10. A bomb hit the hospital building. The intensive care unit was completely destroyed. When I walked down the corridor and, for example, opened the door where we had a dormitory, there was just a street behind the door. That is, there were no offices at all on one side. It was awful. And then a decision was made to evacuate the personnel and the wounded to the Azovstal and Illich factories. In particular, an aerial bomb was dropped in front of the main entrance to the surgical building. And we got the impression that they really knew where the hospital was. And people simply have nothing sacred. That’s all. The bodies of the fallen soldiers came and were taken away by the representatives of the units. And the civilians were taken away by their relatives. Why was it decided to split up and go to two factories? This decision was made after the bomb destructed the hospital.
In order not to risk either the personnel or the injured. So that no one dies. How did this distribution happen? It happened by itself. They just decided among themselves, I’m going there, and I’m going there. That is, it was done without thinking, it had to be done as soon as possible. We shipped the equipment that will be used to work, collected medicines, materials, and tools.
In the operating room where I worked, the windows were covered with sandbags. But during one of the operations, a bomb fell and they flew away, all the tools and materials were in the glass. Everything was thrown up by the blast wave.
In such conditions, we gathered and left for the plant.
On April 12, 2022, Olena was captured by the Russians. And spent more than six months there. On October 17, 2022, she returned home as part of the prisoner exchange.
On the eve of the large-scale invasion, Olena went to Volnovakha for a rotation. For many years in a row, a reinforcement group worked there in the central district hospital: a therapist, a surgeon, an anesthesiologist, and a nurse. They had one small room with minimal technical support, where they received the military. During her service in Mariupol, this was her seventh rotation to Volnovakha.
I didn’t sleep well during the night from February 23 to 24. Olena read the news until she came across the address of the President of the Russian Federation. Around 4 am, I heard an explosion, and within two hours, the first wounded arrived. The Russians fired at the checkpoints.
– We were not mentally prepared for these terrible pictures. It’s one thing when one or two people are brought in with a bullet or shrapnel wound, and it’s another thing when car after car drives up to the hospital and you realize that it’s not the end of it all. And these pools of blood… These are some kind of movie scenes. How can there be calf-deep blood in the room? And then you see them with your own eyes.
We had no idea how critical everything was, it was increasing the tension. But you couldn’t afford to get lost in this misunderstanding. I remember that we started to take off the military socks from the boys. Because we did not know how close the enemy was. And if the Russians suddenly come in now and see the wounded, then they better think that they are just civilians. The whole day of February 24 was spent on my feet. The next night they also delivered the wounded boys. Doctors from the Volnovaha hospital helped us all the time, there was no separation: these are your patients, these are all ours.
And then we were given command to return to the hospital in Mariupol. There basement there was cleared some time before hostilities. That’s all the protection. At first, only military personnel were brought to us, then, when the Russians came closer, a lot of civilians appeared. There were many injuries and therapeutic patients as well. The war doesn’t stop the blood sugar levels that require insulin injections. And when the medicines disappeared from the pharmacies, we gave people what we had from our stocks.
I will not say that I felt fear then. There was something else. It’s like you’re having a terrible dream. You feel restlessness, anxiety, you want to wake up, but you can’t. Communication with colleagues rescued. When it started rumbling outside the window, and it was already March, we joked among ourselves: “Oh, spring thunderstorms.” Black humor turns on, you try to relieve yourself and those around you. And then, at your own risk and fear, you climb to the 4th or 5th floor, look out the window and see how the city is burning, how the district where you rented an apartment is burning. But it doesn’t matter what’s left there.
And then the next thought: it’s not just fire and smoke, there are people. And it didn’t fit in his head.
— At the beginning, the hospital received about three dozen wounded people a day. Later, this figure already reached more than a hundred. A lot of faces come to mind. But the most interesting thing is that they are all remembered not bent over from pain, but with smiles. You try to help the guy, even just ask about his condition, and he will definitely smile, take his hand and say: “Let’s get through.” And you understand where you leave them, you are in your place.
Our surgeons, nurses, junior nurses did not sit around the clock. The surgeons had the size of bags under the eyes till the chin. You hug them, you say: “We will manage.” But you understand how difficult it is for them. This is not work on a conveyor belt with equipment, they have human lives in their hands. It was scary for their health, physical and moral. For them to endure, because resources are not infinite, no matter how strong a person is. Especially if there is no food, sleep and reinforcement. You come up, push him, ask if he has eaten. He stands in gloves up to his elbows in blood, and you understand that the question is stupid. And on the walkie-talkie they say that they are taking the wounded again.
Some doctors from civilian hospitals came to the hospital to help. We also had civilians. People thought that war was war, and medical institutions and churches were security.
Our windows and doors were blown out by the blast waves. We slept for a long time dressed under four blankets, trying to keep warm. But it still felt like you were sleeping outside. Generators are not eternal, there is no hot water to drink at least for a tea. Only rain and snow do not fall on the head, because the roof is still holding.
In mid-March, wounded people began to arrive from the residential area across the street. This meant that the shells were flying very close. And on March 16, one such the projectile flew to the hospital yard, aiming at the monument to the fallen military medics. Then they crashed the nearby “Neptune” pool, a huge glass structure that had been under construction for many years, and it was to be opened. It was a matter of time when he would fly specifically to the hospital.And on the same day, an aerial bomb hit the intensive care unit. Surprisingly, almost no one from the staff was injured. Even the seconded paramedic-instructor-disinfector, who was at the very epicenter of the infection. Now he is in captivity. Then Olena was able to call her mother for the last time. And further communication was very rare – only text messages with the words “alive”.
After that, the hospital began to be moved in small groups along with equipment and medicines to the Ilyich plant and Azovstal. Olena ended up at the Illich factory. “Just get into the car, and wherever it took you, there you are. And you start all over again,” she says.
On April 12, 2022, Olena was captured by the Russians. And spent more than six months there. On October 17, 2022, she returned home as part of the prisoner exchange.