Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, President and CEO of SickKids, Dr. Ronald Cohn said, the war in Ukraine has been “one of the worst humanitarian crises we have seen in our lifetime.”
“And SickKids is ready to care for Ukrainian pediatric patients where appropriate, and within our existing capacity,” he said.
The hospital is expecting to receive the two patients in the next 24 to 36 hours.
Cohn said additional information regarding the patients would not be released in order to respect their privacy.
Cohn said SickKids has made it clear to its partners overseas and within Canada that the hospital has “more capacity” available on its oncology ward and in its oncology clinics.
The hospital is “in daily contact with our partners and can take more if the need is there.”
What’s more, Cohn said there are “several” other children’s hospitals across Canada that have offered to help.
“It’s amazing to see how everybody is coming together,” he said.
Cohn said the process to transport the patients from Poland has been complicated, but he is hoping they will be able to streamline it should more patients need to be transported to the hospital.
Dr. Sarah Alexander, an oncologist at SickKids, said the hospital will reassess where the two children are in their cancer treatments, which were interrupted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and then proceed to provide them with care.
In a press release issued on Monday, SickKids said the hospital, along with government and community partners, “has been preparing for this possibility for a number of days.”
“Toronto has a strong and compassionate Ukrainian community and SickKids has a long-standing partnership with Ukrainian children’s hospitals that enable us to support urgent children’s health-care needs in Ukraine.”
“While the priority at SickKids is meeting the needs of children in Ontario and Canada … all children deserve access to specialized health care, regardless of their place of origin or geographic location,” the hospital said.
“We acknowledge that there is a moral responsibility to provide care to vulnerable children from abroad when we have capacity, consistent with our vision of Healthier Children. A Better World.”
According to Cohn, the hospital has “arranged accommodations” for the patients and their families in the short-term, and are working on arranging accommodations for them for the longer-term.
On Tuesday, Canadian organization Aman Lara said it has received more than a million dollars from donors to facilitate the transport of a “couple” of children and their families from Poland to Toronto in the coming days.
“The situation is rapidly evolving,” Brian Macdonald, executive director of Aman Lara told Global News “This will be the first flight. There will be others but we are just trying to figure this out on the fly.”
The families will fly on a rented plane, with medical personnel on board.
This is the first significant airlift Aman Lara has done, said Macdonald.
“We turned this around in 10 days.”
— with files from Global News’ Jamie Mauracher and The Canadian Press