Ukrainian amputee soldiers return to the frontline after treatment in New York
ITV News US Correspondent Dan Rivers meets Ukrainian solders who have travelled abroad to be fitted with prosthetic limbs
They barely survived the battlefields of the Donbas. Each man losing a limb in their fight for freedom. Now a handful of Ukrainians are being treated in New York’s Staten Island University Hospital as part of a programme of rehabilitation being run by the US charity Kind Deeds.
Arriving in wheelchairs or on crutches, they leave on state-of-the-art titanium prostheses, able to walk, run, ride bicycles and even fight. Each soldier in the programme is determined to return to the frontline.
The charity was set up by Ukrainian Oleksandr Rubtsov who now lives in the US. Seeing the carnage inflicted on his fellow countrymen, he decided to act.
His charity has helped 15 Ukrainian soldiers get back on their feet so far. But Kind Deeds is hoping to widen its programme.
Fundraiser Orest Kyzyk got involved with Kind Deeds to support Ukrainian troops who are defending 'free democracy, liberty and freedom'
Everything is free for the men being treated. Accommodation, hospital visits, food and transport are all provided.
It’s a far cry from the long waiting lists for prosthetic legs back in Ukraine.
The programme costs around £20,000 per soldier and funding comes from a number of sources.
Igor Golubchik of Resilience Entertainment Group organised a series of fundraising concerts across the US and Europe.
After rehab most of the soldiers go back to the war, said Dr Kirsten Rojas, Deputy Executive Director of Staten Island University Hospital
The doctors helping them are amazed by the soldiers rapid progress.
Dr Eugene Holuka describes them as "eager" in both mind and body, all keen to recover as fast as possible and return to the war.
'They are doing exceptionally well,' said Dr Eugene Holuka of Staten Island Hospital
48-year-old Oleg is typical of those being treated. He stood on a mine near Sviatohirsk in October.
He shared with me the gruesome footage of the moments afterwards, which showed the shattered remains of his foot hanging from his ripped combat trousers.
He writhed in silence amid the mud and debris of a battlefield. It is a powerful glimpse into horror of the frontline.
Yevhen lost his leg when a tank shell slammed into his position near Verkhnyokamiaske.
He’d been fighting on the frontline for a year, when finally his luck ran out.
Like his friend Oleg, he has one focus: returning to Ukraine to serve again.
Both men know they are lucky to receive treatment in the US. As they gaze out towards the Statue of Liberty, they remain focused on continuing their fight for freedom.
Grateful to the country which holds their ideals of freedom and self determination, as dear as they do.
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