Two Ukrainian children have arrived at Shriners Children’s Boston from their wartorn country to be treated for severe scalding injuries, medical officials said Friday.
They arrived in Boston late Wednesday evening by air ambulance, with one parent each, officials said. The children’s injuries were accidental, though one occurred in between bombings by the Russians, officials said.
The children were treated locally, then transported on the ground from western Ukraine to Poland and flown out from there, officials told reporters at a news briefing. The whole process took 20 days, officials said.
The children are now under the care of Dr. Robert Sheridan, burn service medical director at Shriners Children’s Boston, and his team, officials said. Sheridan, Dr. Gennadiy Fuzaylov, a Ukrainian pediatric anesthesiologist at Shriners Children’s Boston, and Andrew Graul, the interim hospital administrator, briefed reporters on the challenges of transporting the children.
The children arrived in Boston thanks to an organization run by Fuzaylov called Doctors Collaborating to Help Children that has taken 67 Ukrainian children to Shriners over the past 15 years, the doctors said.
The Ukrainians are “good surgeons, they do a great job — but they aren’t quite as resourced as we are,” said Sheridan. “And so that has been a very mutually fruitful relationship over time.”
Sheridan said burn care is the easiest part, and the “logistics of getting a sick kid halfway around the world” is the hard part.
“It’s difficult to get a sick child all that distance safely, especially now where air ambulances can’t get into Ukraine,” he said. “You have a ground element, and then staging in Poland. That logistics is complicated and expensive.”
The first child, a 2 1/2-year-old girl from Kyiv, suffered a severe scalding injury on 70 percent of her total body surface area, Fuzaylov said.
Fuzaylov explained that in between bombings by the Russians, the child’s mother boiled water and put it on the floor. The child started running and spilled the boiling water on herself, Fuzaylov said.
The second child, a 17-month-old boy from Lviv, suffered a scalding injury and has burns on 45 percent of his body. The child, Fuzaylov said, opened a door and climbed onto a stove with boiling water.
“Burns of this size at kids of that age are generally lethal unless they’re managed right,” Sheridan said.
The doctors declined to provide details as to what comes next for the children’s treatment but said it’s a long process that uses a lot of resources.
“In general, it’s a long process of removing dead tissue, replacing skin grafts on wounds, getting kids strong … and dealing with their pain issues,” Sheridan told reporters. “It’s usually, you know, a day for every percent burn is sort of a little bit of an estimate, so it’s kind of a grueling hospitalization.”