B.C. doctor fundraising to bring medical equipment to front lines in Ukraine

Click to play video: 'B.C. doctor raises money for medical equipment in Ukraine'
B.C. doctor raises money for medical equipment in Ukraine
A B.C. doctor is doing everything she can to help medical professionals on the front lines in Ukraine. Dr. Tracey Parnell* is raising money for medical equipment -- after seeing the overwhelming need as a volunteer. Catherine Urquhart has the story – Oct 19, 2022

A Ukraine-bound B.C. doctor is fundraising for specialized medical gear to take overseas, which she says is needed to help medical teams on the ground facing an “absolutely catastrophic” situation.

It will be the third trip to the war-torn country for Dr. Tracy Parnell, who hails from the Kootenay community of Cranbrook.

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Parnell made her first trip over after hearing stories from a colleague in Lviv about gynecologists at front-line field hospitals trying to learn trauma surgery on the fly.

Click to play video: 'B.C. group sends field hospital to Ukraine'
B.C. group sends field hospital to Ukraine

“The need is just so overwhelming there,” said Parnell, who specializes in emergency medicine and is an expert in crisis and disaster management.

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“Along the front to be honest I really have a hard time distinguishing between who is a combatant, who isn’t a combatant. Everyone is in camo, even the 80-year-old babushkas. Anyone who is injured is given care.”

Parnell said doctors at the front are working with outdated and substandard equipment, including — in some cases — surplus Second World War canvas stretchers.

“And they’re being used over and over,” she said. “I mean you can’t get the blood out.”

Blood-stained stretchers being used on the front lines in Ukraine. Tracy Parnell

Crews on the ground need modern equipment, along with specialized gear to help them treat patients once winter arrives, she said.

Parnell has sourced the necessary items from a CToms, an Edmonton company that specializes in combat medicine, which has agreed to put aside about $150,000 worth of supply for her next trip.

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That stockpile includes 1,000 tourniquets, 2,000 chest seals, special heating blankets and specialized IV pumps that warm fluids in cold weather.

She plans to ship as much of that equipment as she can fund in the next several weeks to Ukraine for her next trip to the front.

Click to play video: 'Ambulances for Ukraine: B.C. paramedics heading to war-torn country'
Ambulances for Ukraine: B.C. paramedics heading to war-torn country

“The equipment is beyond rudimentary, and yet these people are doing miraculous stuff with very, very little,” she said.

“The least they deserve is the same standard of equipment we would have here to deal with these horrific wounds.”

Parnell has been working predominantly with a group called the Pirogov First Volunteer Mobile Hospital, made up of volunteer doctors.

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Parnell acknowledged that heading to Ukraine comes with risks, but said she was inspired to go back by the tireless passion of those doctors, and the indomitable spirit of the civilians.

“After having been there and seen what I have seen, these people are genuinely fighting for freedom, to be free from the tyranny that many of the people we’ve seen escaping from Russian controlled territories speak about,” she said.

“They want freedom and they want their children to be able to make the choices that your children or my nieces and nephews are able to make.”

Anyone who wants to help contribute is being asked to etransfer the money directly to CToms, which has set up a special account for the fund.

Donations can be made to, citing account S0177110.

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