Czech doctors save life of year-old Ukrainian girl thanks to MEDEVAC program

The Czech government’s humanitarian aid program MEDEVAC provides medical assistance to people in need the world over. In war-torn Ukraine it is literally helping to save lives.   

Last year, 16-month-old Yulia was close to death. With burns on 60 percent of her body, she lay in a hospital in Lviv where doctors were unable to help her. Her life was saved by a complex emergency aid effort organized by the Czech Interior Ministry's humanitarian program MEDEVAC. The aid operation involved dozens of people in Ukraine, Poland and Czechia.

One of the doctors in charge of Yulia sent a photo of the injured girl via WhatsApp to a doctor he knew in Prague - Robert Žajíček, head of the burns centre at the Královské Vinohrady University Hospital asking him for help.

Doctor Žajíček says the request sparked a rescue effort to get the injured child to Prague alive, which he considers almost a miracle in view of the war situation and her extensive injuries.

"She is the first child patient with such severe burns to be transported acutely to a European Union country, and it involved fast action and international cooperation. Transporting a child across the border from Ukraine to Poland at night on a breathing apparatus is a big problem. She had to transferred from one ambulance to another. Such a child, who practically has no skin, is at serious risk of hypothermia, especially during transport. Considering the condition she was in, I think it's a miracle that she survived. When we transported her, she was close to death.”

Today, Yulia is back home in Lviv. She is recovering well and her mother sends Robert Žajíček regular photos and videos of her progress.

The Czech government’s humanitarian aid program MEDEVAC helps people in many countries of the world, performing life-saving surgery that is unavailable in their home country. Every year MEDEVAC provides care for close to 1,000 patients, trains doctors abroad and equips hospitals. The patients are triaged by Czech doctors in their home country and are either operated on by Czech specialists in a local hospital or transported to Czechia for surgery.

MEDEVAC Czech | Photo: Czech Foreign Ministry

Established in 2017, Czechia’s MEDEVAC program has helped build a healthcare infrastructure in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Georgia, Iraq, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania and Nigeria; it has provided internships in Czech hospitals for doctors from Ghana, Senegal and Ukraine and organized training sessions for healthcare staff in Georgia, Iraq and Peru in the fields of gynecology and infectology.

The number of countries where it is active is increasing every year. Last year it was Zambia and Rwanda. This year the government has earmarked 60 million crowns for MEDEVAC’s humanitarian work abroad.