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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 23 July 2024

'It's my hospital, I'm a doctor', cries injured Dr Ihor Kolodka after Russian missile strikes clinic

Kolodka had been in the middle of performing cleft-lip surgery when the air-raid sirens went off at Okhmatdyt children’s hospital, unable to stop working, the operating team ploughed ahead until the explosion

Brendan Hoffman, Eric Nagourney New York Published 10.07.24, 06:26 AM
Dr Ihor Kolodka (in bloodied surgical scrub) helps clean up the rubble and search for victims after a Russian missile hit the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv on Monday

Dr Ihor Kolodka (in bloodied surgical scrub) helps clean up the rubble and search for victims after a Russian missile hit the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv on Monday AP/PTI

“I could not not help,” Dr Ihor Kolodka said when we spoke hours after I photographed him helping remove debris from the missile strike in Ukraine on Monday. “It’s my hospital, my people. I’m a doctor.”

But first he needed help himself.

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Kolodka had been in the middle of performing cleft-lip surgery when the air-raid sirens went off at Okhmatdyt children’s hospital. Unable to stop working, the operating team ploughed ahead — until the explosion.

His forehead lacerated, Kolodka went to a colleague to have the wound stitched up and then went outside to help, he told me in a phone conversation. The hospital was hit during a large-scale Russian bombardment that killed at least 41 people in cities across Ukraine on Monday.

Russia said it had been targeting military facilities, but at the hospital, one doctor and another adult were killed, local officials said, and at least 16 other people were injured, seven of them children.

A two-storey medical building about 150 yards from the main hospital sustained the most extensive damage, with the structure completely collapsed. When the sirens went off, medical workers placed those patients who could be moved into hallways, away from the windows.

But after the explosion, one doctor recalled seeing scores of “badly injured” people staggering through the halls.

Kolodka, 30, who has worked at Okhmatdyt for a little more than three years, said the infant girl he had been operating on was doing well.

In the end, the surgery had to be halted after the power went out. Doctors used a manual respirator to keep her breathing, and then she was moved to another hospital.

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