On March 30th, Darina was staying at her grandmother’s house with her mother, Natasha, in a small northern Ukrainian town when an explosion suddenly shook the building.
Natasha recalls watching her daughter unable to get up with severely injured legs. While neighbors rushed to offer assistance and called for help, an ambulance could not reach their location due to the massive military presence in the area.
Several family members arrived shortly thereafter and took Darina to Chernihiv, where she received emergency medical care.
As there was no electricity, gas, or water, it was almost impossible for the hospital to function.
In an effort to help Darina, local doctors performed an Ilizarov reconstructive surgery on one of her injured legs, a procedure during which an orthopedic external fixator is applied to a limb to reconstruct and reshape bones. Darina’s other leg also had to undergo two operations. Although the hospital was powered by a generator, Natasha recalls the doctors were wearing headlamps while operating.
Once her condition had been stabilized, Darina’s father searched for a hospital near Kyiv that was well-equipped and functioning despite the challenging circumstances.
Finally, with the help of FRIDA, an Israeli-Ukrainian NGO that operates mobile medical clinics in the surrounding area, Darina was transferred to Sheba’s Shining Star field hospital.
After undergoing a comprehensive examination upon her arrival, it was determined that Darina’s condition would require further treatment, including surgery, a skin transplant, and intensive rehabilitation. Due to the complexity of her condition, the decision was made to send her to Israel for treatment at Sheba.
Arriving at Sheba
Since day one, Darina’s mother, Natasha, recalls feeling touched by the “attentive, compassionate care” of Sheba’s staff, who ensured that she could stay at her daughter’s side throughout the process.
Darina underwent surgery, a skin transplant, and medical treatment for all of her injuries within two days of arriving at Sheba.
“The staff was very caring and thoughtful, constantly checking in with Darina,” Natasha recounts, “and Dr. Nir Shar Luria is a wonderful doctor.”
Looking back at their time at Sheba, both Darina and her mother recall Rima, a Global Patient Services medical coordinator, as an enormous help to them right from the get-go. Rima was able to speak their language, and explained every step of the upcoming process as clearly as possible, reassuring them that she would be available to assist them round-the-clock. Having landed in a foreign country, burdened with many worries, and suffering greatly from a traumatic experience, this was a valuable source of comfort for both mother and daughter.
“Rima not only spoke with us on a daily basis, but also made sure Darina had sandals to wear with her casts, as well as a comfortable chair and a walker.”
During her time at Sheba, Darina received daily lessons in English, math, and art while also learning a few words in Hebrew.
After a few months of intensive rehabilitation, Darina finally got up on her feet and can now, happily, walk by herself again without crutches.