Ukraine trip May 21 to June 4 2022
Day One May 21
It was up early and all packed the night before. Michael Joseph came from Clarksville at 8.
Michael and I had recently reacquainted. Hadn’t seen in other in about 5 years.
We had been to Ukraine twice together in 1999 and 2002 or so.
That 1999 trip included my first trip to Israel. We were blessed in many ways on that trip.
Michael met my recent new friend Igor Khulyatsev, the Director of Vinnitsa oblast’s Jewish Charitable Center. Michael for years supported their Vinnitsa soup kitchen. We spent several Shabbats with Igor.
Igor recognised my love for the Jewish people. In part born of medical training at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
At the time in the late 70s, Max Factor had donated a wing to the hospital in exchange for Cedars-Sinai
Providing free medical care for Russian immigrant Jews. Thus began my education in the Jewish faith and culture (plenty to admire) and the Soviet experience both as the individuals related it and the Soviet
Medical care they’d received (not so admirable).
So after our first trip to Ukraine, Michael and I and Vinnitsa missionary Jon Mohr were off to Israel. Michael had been there many times and was a joy as a friend and as a tour guide. I’ll never forget
that trip. Michael and I met because he worked in Nashville for a forwarder shipping company. He’d helped us ship containers to Ukraine. They were chock full of donated medical equipment and supplies. Project CURE also played a big role in procuring the contents of many containers.
So now, after Michael had valve surgery and idiopathic endocarditis in early 2021, and I had my concussion and subdural evacuated in early 2020, here we were again bound for Ukraine. Wiser and older and more determined than ever to bless Ukraine in all ways possible.
Day Two May 22
Arrival in Atlanta and flight overnight to Paris CDG airport went well. Thank goodness for the Air France Lounge today. Beautiful breakfast and showers. Then our smooth flight to Bucharest. Checked in to the Hilton Garden Inn Airport hotel and a nice dinner and then deep sleep.
Michael met a Pastor working out of Romania to help in Ukraine. Logistics and building. A divine appointment. One of I suspect many to come.
Day Three May 23
The early morning flight from Bucharest to Iasi was only an hour. At the airport, Archana and her nephew Max and his new wife Cayman met us.
Archana and Ruslan Tkachuk founded an amazing ministry in Ukraine called Raising Hope Ukraine in about 2002. They have a Christian Foster Home in Mohildiv Podilsky with 10 kids plus refugee families from Kharkiv and Mariupol staying with them. Their own children are now in Romania but hopefully next month or two, back in Ukraine. I am blessed to be on their Board. Now, they are endlessly helping get humanitarian relief from Romania and America into Ukraine.
This time we went further north in Romania and crossed into southwestern Ukraine near and through Chernitvsti. A lovely city I have twice visited. The hometown of my collaborator Dr. Vitaliy Krylyuk. There we met Olga. She is helping get a van which we were blessed to contribute to the purchase of converted into an ambulance for soldiers in the east of Ukraine. Her mother is a doctor serving just behind the front lines.
Then on to Mohildiv Podilsky and a great reacquaintance with Ruslan’s Mom and a family of refugees from Kharkiv and a 20 year old, Vanya, from Mariupol. His story so sad and poignant as he described his grandfather facilitating his escape.
Raising Hope Ukraine is facilitating Vanya getting a Commercial Driving License.
Day Four May 24
This morning we headed to Vinnitsa. Always home base for me. Both strategically and emotionally.
Here Michael and I checked into the Church rooms at the Vinnitsa Church of Jesus the Nazarene. Pastor Roman and his wife were our gracious hosts. For Michael, ongoing stay at the church as I travel.
It was fun to join Archana as she gave an English lesson to three IT experts.
We then had a lovely lunch and supper and Pastor Ruslan and his Associates Yuriy and Sasha of the Vinnitsa Messianic Congregation met with Michael through their connection with Pastor Roman.
Michael has told me later that these new friendships are wonderful.
The afternoon was largely spent with Dr. Sergei Bolyukh, my best friend, and his wife and daughter in law Lena.
Day Five May 25
After breakfast, we went to Selische for me to meet Pastor Sergei Alekseyev of Mariupol. He and his wife and six kids escaped. Two older children are in the war. Pastor Sergei has severe post viral cardiomyopathy. He is even on a heart transplant list. I was able to look at his records and do a portable echocardiogram. We adjusted his medications and arranged for him to see a cardiologist in Vinnitsa next week. Precious man in big heart trouble. I must remember to pray for Pastor Sergei and ask all who read this to do the same.
In the afternoon we headed to Ternopil. Beautiful western Ukraine city.
There we were greeted by dear friends Drs. Arsen Gudyma and Galina Tsimbalyuk.
After supper we got a nice rest overnight.
Day Six May 26
Today was day 1 of two days of lectures by me and by Ukrainians on Emergency Transfusion and Medical Myths in PreHospital medicine.
Primary goal to impress on all clinicians to use uncrossmatched blood in acute hemorrhagic shock.
Day Seven May 27
Today, day 2, was devoted to laryngeal tube airway, LMAs, SAM IO intraosseous system and SAM Junctional Tourniquet use. With samples and Training devices left behind.
Tonight I take the overnight train to Kyiv with Drs. Tsymbaluk and my translator and ACEP Liaison for Ukraine, Dr. Ivan Kuzminsky. To meet with Dr. Vitaliy Krylyuk and other Ukraine Ministry of Health officials.
Day Eight May 28
After refreshing shower at my host’s home, Dr. Maxim Maximenko, a dear friend for years, we then went outside Kyiv about 50 km to his Dacha for relaxation and borscht . Vitaliy is a borscht specialist.
Then an early night’s rest.
Day Nine May 29
Today a great breakfast and then the collaboration that Vitaliy wanted. We discussed field hospital and medical care logistics based upon post war victory by Ukraine.
This will be a time of much ongoing western and free nations’ assistance.
I am blessed with many humanitarian based friends in America. Many of whom have traveled to Ukraine with me.
Those relationships will take on new dimensions and impact upon Ukraine.
This afternoon it is time for the afternoon train from Kyiv to Khmelnitskiy. Beautiful weather and no air raid sirens for several hours.
However, this meant saying goodbye to Vitaliy and Ivan and Max. That was difficult.
On arrival in Khmelnitskiy we were greeted by Dr. Larisa, the Director of Emergency Services. My host while here.
Ruslan and Max and Cayman meeting up with us here.
Day Ten May 30
The lecture hall in Khmelnitskiy was packed. Well over 100 people. The occasion of having an American Emergency Medicine presentation was new to them.
We discussed Stop The Bleed and Transfusion protocols and Intraosseous and Laryngeal Tube Airway. To my surprise it was new to them on all fronts. They only did Laryngeal Mask Airways.
Only fully crossmatched blood for transfusion. So, to give uncrossmatched blood remains new to them. We demonstrated Point of Care Blood Typing. Discussed the Walking Blood Bank of the US Army. It went well.
In the audience were many doctors and Emergency personnel. We started at 10 am and finished at 5 pm.
Included were demonstrations of SAM IO and SAM Junctional Tourniquet.
After the long day we headed back to the hotel and we’re joined for supper by Dr. Tatiana, Head Doctor of Khmelnitskiy Oblast. Also joining us was a former EMS Paramedic and now Army Medic, Ruslan, who we will work with to get donated equipment and supplies to the frontline of this war. What an honor when he gave me a badge off his uniform designating a Defender of Kyiv’s Juliana Airport.
Day Eleven May 31
The drive from Khmelnitskiy to Vinnitsa was typical of driving around Ukraine. Beautiful and seemingly endless fields of planted wheat and corn and soy. Such a rich soil. Here in the center and west of Ukraine it is an area with few bombings. Air raid sirens are frequent. But not bombings. It is in the east and south that such horrific Russian indiscriminate bombing and complete disregard for human life occurs mostly.
The only information that the Russian people receive from their government is disinformation. They accuse Ukraine of being fascists and neoNazis. With a Ukrainian President who is Jewish and whose relatives died in the Holocaust. The Russians need a long gaze in the mirror.
Upon arriving back in Vinnitsa, it is a reunion with Michael Joseph. He has spent wonderful time in the Vinnitsa Church of Jesus the Nazarene and with leaders of the Messianic congregations of Vinnitsa and Berdichiv. It is such a joy to see his face light up with joy at the prospect of future collaboration in the victory of Ukraine over Russia and the rebuilding of many places here in Ukraine. His forwarding and shipping skills and relationships will be used to the glory of God. This trip was meant to occur for Michael, for me, and to rekindle a great friendship. We have both been so blessed on this trip.
After lunch, it was a visit with Dr. Sergei Bolyukh and his wife Olga. Always a joy, and always difficult to say goodbye.
For certain, Michael and I will leave a big part of our hearts here in Ukraine.
Afternoon it is back to Archana and Ruslan’s home in Mohildiv Podilsky. Home of RaisingHopeUkraine.com
Whose work with children and humanitarian aid can only be described as essential and devoted. All who read should please go to this website and learn of their NGO and 501c3 and consider supporting their effort.
Day Twelve June 1
Today it was a day to sleep in, then a beautiful breakfast. I have gotten to know the family of Sasha
and Larisa, evacuees of Kharkiv. Northeastern Ukraine near the Russian border where the Ukraine military and many citizens have defended. They left to protect their kids. Sasha works night shift for IT for some companies. Able to work from here in Mohildiv Podilsky remotely to maintain income. Lovely couple and family. They hope to return to Kharkiv upon the Ukrainian victory.
This afternoon I go to the Mohildiv Podilsky Regional Hospital for my final lectures. And to leave behind equipment and supplies.
By the way, to give you a microcosm of Mohildiv Podilsky, this border town with Moldova is normally a population of 30,000. It is now 45,000 as a result of 15,000 evacuees. This is a major focus of Raising Hope Ukraine humanitarian efforts.
Tomorrow morning we leave Ukraine for Romania. It will be a heartbreak for Michael and for me.
Day Thirteen June 2
Yesterday’s presentations went well at the Mohildiv Podilsky Regional Hospital.
Today we head out this afternoon for Iasi Romania by van. That is where Archana and Ruslan’s kids are evacuated to during the war.
Tomorrow I will have time again to meet Nathan, Roxana and their 10 year old son Samuel. They hosted me in Iasi in March during my last trip to Ukraine. Their ministry is to eliminate orphans in Romania by adoption and great Foster Homes. Beautiful couple and son.
go to: https://comission.org/our-team/burke
Consider not only learning about the Burke’s but also helping sponsor their work in Romania and for Ukraine. Nothing wasted. Pure servant hearts, as with Raising Hope Ukraine here in Mohildiv Podilsky.
Day Thirteen June 3
Perhaps the most challenging feature of these 44 trips now to Ukraine is the saying goodbye. And now, in tge setting of Putin’s evil war crimes, it is more difficult.
You become accustomed to the air raid sirens. But never entirely.
To continually meet people evacuating Ukraine for safety in EU and other free countries makes it real.
For example, a family now living with Archana and Ruslan in Mohildiv Podilsky, Sasha and Larisa, we’re starting to seriously plan their return to Kharkiv in the days we were on the road. Then, two days ago, they learned that one of the three schools that are about 200 meters apart from the school their kids attend, was demolished by a bomb. Really, a school!?
So now they wonder about their future. We all just loved on them and encouraged them and prayed.
On our trip last night through Moldova we were blessed to be accompanied by a mother and her two young children, Marharita and Danil. From Luhansk. An area being devastated as was Mariupol.
A family in Iasi specializes in helping Ukrainian refugees by having them staying their home, until they get settled elsewhere.
Tomorrow, the three of them and their two suitcases fly on to live in Munich. Thankfully, the mother has a childhood friend there who wants them to live with her.
Through Raising Hope Ukraine we were able to give her some Romanian currency and three discounted humanitarian airline tickets from Iasi to Munich. She cried uncontrollably upon learning of this generosity.
I am so proud of the ministry of Raising Hope Ukraine and the role I am blessed to play. No bigger blessing in this life than to help others in need. Except for one. I am so blessed to have this long marriage of 38 years to Catherine and an amazing family….three beautiful daughters and 7 grandchildren with number eight on the way.
Though part of my heart has been in Ukraine since my first visit in 1996, I find a bigger part of my heart is there now in this time of their war against evil and for freedom.
At this time, Michael and I are on our flight from Iasi to Bucharest. Tomorrow the long flight through Amsterdam and Minneapolis to Nashville.
Day Fourteen June 4
The first leg from Bucharest to Amsterdam is delayed about 90 minutes. The KLM pilot came to the gate himself to apologize. That was impressive. And stayed around with the gate agents to offer insights on connecting flights. He himself was upset that the Schiphol airport was down to one runway for scheduled repairs to others. We will see if our next flight is also delayed. Might then make it.
These are nuisance inconveniences. Honestly, the older I get the less such disrupts me.
Of course, after again beholding the war in Ukraine and it’s impact on people, it puts into perspective what should bother me and what should just be tolerated without any distress.
So, as this trip, second to Ukraine during this war that began roughly 100 days ago, it is a time to pray for Ukraine and it’s people.
It is a joy to be available and able to help them and to encourage them. They are truly now the frontline of the world’s battle for liberty. It is the most important geopolitical situation of my life. And yours, unless you were alive during World War Two.
Brian R. McMurray, MD, FACP, FACEP, AAHIVS
ACEP Ambassador to Ukraine