During September 16-24th, Razom facilitated a medical mission for the group of 11 American doctors and nurses from AAFPRS (American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery) to deliver advanced reconstructive surgeries and corrective plastic procedures to patients who suffered as a result of russia’s war on Ukraine. In the spirit of collaboration and learning, American and Ukrainian colleagues worked side by side at the medical facility of Ivano Frankivsk Oblast Hospital.
On May 22, 2022, we received an email that read:
“My name is Dr. Manoj Abraham and I am a Facial Plastic Surgeon based in New York. I am the Chair of the Face To Face Committee, the humanitarian arm of the American Academy of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery and I am a Governor for the American College of Surgeons. We are looking to partner with anyone sending medical teams to safe areas in Ukraine or surrounding areas to help treat those with facial injuries from the war – we have experience doing this previously in Croatia. We will need to connect with hospitals and doctors in the local area to help coordinate, and I am hoping you can put me in touch with anyone who can help with making these arrangements. My contact information is listed below. I look forward to hearing from you.
This email started a massive collaboration that resulted in the Razom x Face to Face Medical Mission, giving 31 Ukrainians, military and civilians alike, extremely complex reconstructive surgeries and a chance to have a normal life.
Our team immediately saw the incredible potential and the major challenge of implementing such a mission, especially in the ongoing war. At first, it seemed almost impossible to find and connect all the dots to make it happen. Even the American College of Surgeons sadly informed Dr. Manoj T. Abraham:
“Many of you have reached out to us, asking how you can contribute to the care of victims in war-torn Ukraine.
At this time, no current role or mechanism exists for safe travel to help in person.”
But Razom’s team decided to embrace the challenge. We mobilized all connections and resources available to us to ensure that such an altruistic and invaluable for Ukrainian people intention becomes a reality.
Razom for Ukraine has been bringing doctors from the US to Ukraine since 2016 to work with surgeons on the ground and perform neurosurgery as a part of The Co-Pilot Project initiated and run by Razom’s co-founder Mariya Soroka and her husband, Dr. Luke Tomycz, Neurosurgeon at The Epilepsy Institute of New Jersey. The project has been a huge success and has given us a decent network of Ukrainian and American healthcare professionals and partners.
Hundreds of hours, miles of correspondence, and countless Zoom calls went into planning this mission. First, we connected with Dr. Ivanka Nebor – ENT doctor, founder, and president of INgenius, a platform for the development of medicine and science in Ukraine. Thanks to her professional network of young physicians in Ukraine, we were able to install the first wheel to the Face to Face vehicle.
We needed a hospital with operating theaters, postoperative care units, inpatient wards, and possible intensive care units. It was vital not to disrupt the care that was already being provided to the patients. The Ivano-Frankivsk Regional Clinical Hospital and Ukrainian ENT doctor Natalia Komashko and her team courageously embraced a massive workload by taking on a lot of challenging cases in a short period of time.
Finding the Ukrainian doctors and a hospital both interested and able to facilitate the American doctors’ efforts was only the beginning. Ahead of us laid a lengthy and complex process of recruiting and screening the patients. INgenius has utilized its platform and social media outreach to spread the word.
Patients’ stories moved, shook, and horrified us. The survivors of russian aggression hailed from locations notorious for war crimes and atrocities, such as Bucha, Sumy, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Izyum. Repairing facial scars could be the final stage in their arduous medical journeys, allowing them to finally get closure, feel whole again, and return to society. Understanding that recuperation and readjustment to society are greatly aided by psychological rehabilitation, Razom invited our “Razom With You” therapists from the Ivano-Frankivsk Support Center to help the patients cope and process what happened to them.
There were a large number of applications, but only the 34 most complicated ones could be selected. Not only did the patients need all of the supporting medical documentation for the screening process, but they also had to be physically able to withstand long hours of complicated surgeries.
After months of planning, long hours of surgery, and heartbreaking patient stories, this mission has deeply touched every participant. The American doctors’ and nurses’ incredible selfless devotion to helping people will long be remembered and appreciated by all Ukrainians.
The goal of this mission isn’t only to perform the medical procedures but to teach the Ukrainian doctors employ these incredible technologies in their practice. Throughout the entire week, all surgeries were broadcasted and available live for all medical professionals in Ukraine to observe and learn. Razom’s focus was always to support the democracy and prosperity in Ukraine, and modern healthcare is a vital part of any society. We strive to continue developing the avenues for education and experience exchange on both sides of the Atlantic by implementing more missions and projects that aid this process.
Please, donate to help us rebuild Ukraine and ensure that Ukrainian people have access to technologies available in the modern healthcare field