B.C. surgeon volunteers in Poland to help war victims wounded in Ukraine

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New Westminster plastic surgeon helps heal the wounded in Ukraine war
Dr. Kimit Rai has long volunteered with Operation Rainbow Canada repairing children's cleft palates. His latest mission was cancelled due to the war in Ukraine. As Julia Foy reports, now he's volunteering at a hospital in Poland, helping casualties of the shelling and bombing. – Nov 11, 2022

New Westminster surgeon Dr. Kimit Rai has recently returned from a volunteer mission to Poland.

Rai went to Poland with the Canada-Ukraine Foundation to perform reconstructive surgery on people injured in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The surgeon has a vast wealth of knowledge and working experience as he has operated on more than 3,000 patients in 25 years, specializing in cleft palates and facial deformities.

“Major reconstructive surgeries were done,” said Rai.

“There were gunshot wounds and lots of refugees from many different places.”

Rai joined a specialized team of doctors, nurses and medical support members who help rebuild patients’ faces, limbs, and lives working in Poland.

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“The patients could not be treated adequately within Ukraine,” said Dr. Oleh Antonyshyn, with the Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program.

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“It’s a medical system targeted by Russia with more than 100 hospitals destroyed. The medical system (in Ukraine) is overwhelmed.”

The Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program has a long legacy in the now war-torn country. Both doctors first came to Kyiv in 2014 to help patients.

But when the Russian invasion began, it was deemed too dangerous to bring in the Canadian volunteer team.

Work then began to find a hospital in Poland close to the border where patients could be treated and return home to Ukraine.

“When these patients arrive in Poland, they became friends, they became family,” said Julia Krekhovetsky-Malaniy, with the Canada Ukraine Foundation.

“That’s why we continue to do the work.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Rai is now working on a plan to create a children’s surgery centre in Ukraine, which could be supported by Operation Rainbow Canada, a volunteer non-profit organization that helps children in need.

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