Conflicts & War

Ukraine needs prostheses as well as weapons

By Luis Ángel Reglero

Dnipro, Ukraine, Jun 12 (EFE).- Ukraine’s military has been reiterating its pleas to Western nations for more arms and ammunition, but other forms of non-military relief are also desperately needed in the war-ravaged country.

A rehabilitation center in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro is awaiting a delivery of prosthetic limbs for amputees, whose number has doubled since the Russian invasion of its neighbor started in late February.

“We used to receive between 70 and 80 patients per month. Now it is up to 200 or 250, a significant upward trend,” Oleksiy Shtanko, director of the Dnipro prosthetics facility, tells Efe.

It is essential to get help from outside “during these difficult times,” Shtanko stresses, as he watches a couple of patients exercising to learn to walk with their prosthetic legs.

The center offers services for all ages including children and elderly people and provides patients with all kinds of prosthetic devices, from those requested for aesthetic reasons to the bionic ones.

They receive help, “but I would like to see more, given the number of requests we get now,” Shtanko says.

The center needs an expansion to be able to receive wounded soldiers and civilians, which is why money, as well as equipment such as beds and orthopedic devices, are needed to help “a greater number of people,” he adds.

The war has forced the center to speed up its work. It used to take them a couple of months to customize each prosthesis, but now, they get it done in a month.

Shtanko points out that a prosthesis at this center is three times cheaper than in other European countries, where it can exceed 10,000 euros.

A few years ago, Olexandr had his fingers and legs amputated after they froze when he was left outdoors on a winter day after a fight.

But now he can play table tennis, thanks to the racket taped to his hand.

He has been in the center since he was 17 years old, “training for everything, but you just saw it, here I even learned to play table tennis,” he says.

The center is currently working to receive soldiers and civilians with mutilations sustained during the war so that they can begin their rehabilitation journey, with their prostheses being prepared.

“Personalized to the color of your skin, even your nails,” says an employee as he shows off a plastic arm.

Ivan, a 77-year-old man whose legs were amputated after a thrombosis, Volodymyr, who lost one of his legs in a fire in his house, and Olexandr, who had his leg cut due to gangrene, believe that help will come while they wait in the room they share in the center.EFE


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