Health & Wellness

Chicago Doctors Save Arm of Injured Ukrainian Soldier With Suburban Ties

Andrii Dovhaichuk was hit by a blast in eastern Ukraine in August.

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A team of surgeons, nurses and therapists at Midwest Orthopaedics at RUSH are working to save and restore full functionality to Andrii Dovhaichuk’s right arm after he was injured by shrapnel while fighting the war in Ukraine.

A DJ in Ukraine for 25 years, Dovhaichuk volunteered to fight for his country when Russia invaded. In August, the 43 year old almost lost his right arm.

"Shrapnel hit my hand," Dovhaichuk said. While his English is limited, Dovhaichuk was able to share his story with the help of a cousin and his wife, Yana.

Dovhaichuk was at risk of losing the limb and needed care he couldn’t get in Ukraine.

Dovhaichuk's father lives in the western suburbs of Chicago. His father reached out to the pastor at his church, Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and several people came together to arrange care for Dovhaichuk at Midwest Orthpaedics at RUSH.

Dr. Xavier Simcock, a hand and upper extremity surgeon, was one of several medical professionals who volunteered to help Dovhaichuk.

"He had a blast injury from a shell that had kind of wiped out the whole outside of his elbow. So he had lost nerve function. He'd lost skin. He lost his entire joint," Dr. Simcock said.

Dovhaichuk needed two surgeries, performed by both Dr. Simcock and his partner, Dr. John Fernandez. The first was to clear the infection. A second surgery was performed to fuse the elbow to help it heal and stabilize.

The surgeries were performed pro bono by the surgeons and their surgical teams and the operating room time was donated by Rush University Medical Center.

"It's been the CEO of RUSH, who's been allowing this free care for him. All of the occupational therapists have been working with him and it's been pro bono, myself and John Fernandez and of course, the whole surgical team,” Dr. Simcock said.

Together, they saved his arm.

“Now I can move the wrist and the fingers and we work also with shoulder,” Dovhaichuk said.

A third surgery may still be needed to restore full functionality, but Dovhaichuk smiled as he demonstrated bending his wrist and wiggling his figures, progress that he’s made thanks for the generous support he’s received.

“This is something magic for me,” Dovhaichuk said. “And I hope in the future I can do many things with this hand.”

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