Plastic surgeon Nataliya Biskup, MD, came away from her 10-day mission trip to Ukraine in October moved by the resilience of her patients ñ Ukrainian soldiers who had suffered grave head and neck injuries in the fight against Russia.
Biskup, who was born in Lviv and moved with her family to Phoenix when she was 8, also marveled at the resolve of the people of Ukraine.
“They’re still so determined that Ukraine is going to win, that ëwe’re going to get through this, God is with us.’ Ö People there are much more fearful that the world is going to forget about Ukraine,” said Biskup, who practices at Plastic Surgery Center in Wichita. Next year she will see patients at Hutchinson Clinic and do surgeries at Wesley Children’s Hospital.
The trip to Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine by five surgeons from the U.S. and Canada was arranged by the Face the Future Foundation, a Toronto-based nonprofit that coordinates facial plastic reconstructive surgery for disadvantaged patients around the globe.
Biskup traveled with a scrub tech, a nurse and a nurse practitioner, she said, and “they really have hardly anything there, so we brought all our own instruments, our own sutures.”
Of the 300 who applied for help, 32 soldiers were selected for surgery. Biskup performed about a dozen surgeries over four long days, she said. Some involved patient-specific implants from biomed companies, so planning was key.
“There’s a lot of blinding injuries. I would say almost every one of these guys was blind in one eye or both eyes,” she said.
The bombardment of Ivano-Frankivsk increased after their visit, she said, adding that she slept through the single air raid siren. “It’s kind of surprising — everybody has kind of gone on with their routine, going to work and school,” she said.
Biskup said the “trip felt to me like the tip of an iceberg, like there’s so much work to be done there,” mentioning a need for orthopedic and oral surgeons. Any MSSC colleagues inspired to donate time, effort or money can contact the organization at www.facethefuturefoundation.ca or (416) 686-9110.