Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

A Calgary heart surgeon spearheaded a push to send medical and surgical supplies to Ukraine after he saw a doctor there treating open-heart surgery patients in a bomb shelter.

dr. Paul Fedak, who is of Ukrainian-Canadian descent, said a few months ago he watched a social media post of a Ukrainian heart surgeon, Dr. Igor Mokryk, taking patients to a bunker as bombs fell overhead.

Click to play video: 'Ukraine Invasion: Treatment of Civilians in a War Zone'

Invasion of Ukraine: Treatment of Civilians in a War Zone

“I can only think about how difficult it is in our own health care system and in my own practice to take care of these patients,” said Fedak, director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute at Foothills Medical Center. “I can’t even imagine what it would be like trying to care for these patients during wartime.”

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Fedak, his team and Alberta Health Services put together a cardiac care package that includes about 30 boxes of personal protective equipment, bandages, catheters, syringes, surgical gowns and defibrillator leads.

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“To defibrillate and shock someone, you need special pads. If they don’t have that, their equipment is essentially useless,” Fedak said at a press conference on Thursday.

Fedak said the supplies are either surplus or past their recommended shelf life, but are safe to use. He said the boxes will be sent to a source Ukraine uses in Poland, which will make sure the medical equipment arrives safely.

He said the Kyiv Heart Institute had submitted a long list of hard-to-reach items.

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Fedak hopes to send more supplies and hopes other medical facilities will send surplus as well.

“By providing some of these things, we will be able to enable them to continue to provide care. With the latest attacks, they are suffering from electricity problems and it is not safe to move around,” said Fedak.

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“All they have to do is open the boxes and they can use the materials right away.”

Fedak said he first reached out to Mokryk out of compassion and wanted to make sure he was okay. After hearing from him, he realized that more could be done.

Click to play video: 'BC doctor raises money for medical equipment in Ukraine'

BC doctor raises money for medical equipment in Ukraine

“It really shook me because I’m a heart surgeon and being the director of a cardiovascular institute, I know the challenges,” Fedak said.

“I’m also Canadian of Ukrainian descent and I grew up understanding the oppression of communism and I heard a lot of stories growing up and the crimes, so it broke my heart to think about what was going on there and I reached out.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press