In a small orthopedic clinic in Kyiv, Daviti Suleymanishvili listens as doctors prescribe various prosthetics that could replace his left leg, torn during the Battle of Mariupol. Born in Georgia but holds Ukrainian citizenship, Suleimanishvili’s nom de guerre is “Scorpio” – he is one of countless people who lost arms or legs in the war and are now eagerly awaiting a replacement.
A member of the Azov Regiment, he was stationed in the city of Mariupol, which had been under relentless attack by Russian troops for three months before the last soldiers at the Azovstal steel mills laid down their arms last week. He was badly wounded on March 20 when a Russian tank at a distance of 900 meters fired at him.
He said, “The explosion threw me four meters and then a wall fell on top of me.” France Press agencyHe said that he was also wounded by shrapnel. “When I tried to stand up, I couldn’t feel my leg. My hand was injured and a finger was gone.”
His comrades took him to a field hospital in the heart of the sprawling steel mills, his leg amputated just below the knee. Then he was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Dnipro, central Ukraine.
Two months later, he began to move around with crutches and hopes to have his prosthetic leg fitted soon, funded by the Ukrainian government.
“If possible, I want to continue serving in the army and keep fighting,” he says. “The leg is nothing because we are in the 21st century and you can make good prosthetics and continue to live and serve,” he adds. “I know that many men in the war now have prosthetics and are on the front lines.”
On Wednesday afternoon, he had his first consultation with doctors who would repair a new limb. Inside a clinic in a dilapidated building in Kyiv, dozens of specialists make prosthetics inside a plaster-covered workshop, while in consultation rooms, doctors contemplate which model might be the right one for each of their patients.
But the case of Suleimanishvili is not straightforward.
One suggests a vacuum attached prosthesis in which an air pump pulls between the residual tip and the socket, creating a vacuum; Another pushes for a different kind of attachment that he says would be better for wartime conditions, and is “stable, flexible, and easy to clean.”
“There were almost no military two weeks ago, but now they are coming,” says doctor Oleksandr Stitsenko, head of the clinic. “They weren’t prepared before because they needed to be treated for injuries to other parts of their bodies.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky said in mid-April that 10,000 soldiers had been wounded, while the United Nations had given more than 4,600 civilians wounded. Capacity magazineA specialized US bulletin targeting amputees said Ukraine would need significant resources.
“To help hundreds or thousands of Ukrainian amputees who are reported to need treatment, relief volunteers will need to operate from well-equipped central locations,” she said. However, “there are a limited number of these clinics within Ukraine, and the supply chains they serve are choppy at best.”
‘Ready to work in weeks’
Stetsenko said Ukraine has about 30 facilities that manufacture prosthetics, and his clinic usually produces about 300 each year. The clinic will not be able to increase production because each prosthesis is “customized” to suit each patient’s injury and needs.
In the case of Suleimanishvili, who is a gunner, doctors will add 15 kg to his new leg weight so he can support his use of heavy weapons.
“I want the prosthesis so I can do most of the maneuvers,” he insists. Within a week, he’ll be back with a temporary prosthesis so he can start learning to walk.
Another doctor, Valery Nipsny, said, “In two or three weeks, he will start running.” France Press agency“90 percent” of military amputees want to return to the battlefield as quickly as possible, says Suleimanishvili.
(by Charlotte Planteff)
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