Ukrainian soldiers who lost limbs in war to receive prosthetics from Seattle area doctors

The UkrHelp Foundation helped to welcome two Ukrainian soldiers to Seattle Thursday.  Here, the soldiers will receive life-changing treatment after losing limbs in the Russian war in Ukraine. 

The foundation says soldiers Vladyslav Zinkevych and Petro Shemihon will work with medical providers in the Seattle area to get fitted for prosthetics.  The volunteers who brought them here say they are some of the true heroes of Ukraine. 

The two walked through the doors at the airport to cheers and hugs from supporters Thursday afternoon.  Both are officers in the Ukrainian Armed Forces.  Shemihon lost a leg in the war, Zinkevych lost an arm.  Both are grateful for the opportunity to gain back some more mobility. 

"I am very happy because I wait a very long time, six months," said Shemihon.  

Although the men speak some English, a translator helped with some of the conversation with the men Thursday. 

"They were expecting someone, but they didn’t think it would be this kind of welcoming experience," said Yuliia Matvieieva, translator and lead volunteer with the UkrHelp Foundation.

Shemihon's mom, Oleana, was helping him through his journey to Seattle.  His brother is still fighting on the front lines in Ukraine. 

"Olena lives every day waiting for a message for her other son from the frontline, just to know that he’s alive," said Matvieieva. 

Olena told us that her son's birthday falls on February 24th, the day the war started in Ukraine a year ago.  He just turned 22 last month. 

"They had a lot of plans and dreams, and this war changed everything as we can see," said Matvieieva, translating for Olena.  The picture below shows Shemihon before the impacts of the war.

The UkrHelp Foundation says bringing the warriors to the Pacific Northwest for treatment is one way people in the region can help those fighting for their freedom.  

"This is a very important mission, and we are grateful for doctors for clinics who open up first their hearts and doors of their institutions," said Vitaliy Piekhotin, a Ukrainian volunteer during the war and Ukrainian Army Chaplain. "We are just making our first steps, and we ask our friends for support, our international community, and our American friends to help us to continue this kind of mission and work." 

"I’m not a Ukrainian, but I am a believer in fighting for what’s right and helping people out," said Andrew Escobar, an attorney who volunteers for the UkrHelp Foundation.  He joined the group at the airport to welcome the soldiers. "Whatever small role we can play is very rewarding." 

"They are going to try to live their lives to the fullest with this new opportunity," said Matvieieva translating. "They want the world to know the war didn’t stop. It’s developing. Very difficult times for Ukraine right now, but Ukraine stands and will win and with the help of the world and America."  

The soldiers will stay in the Seattle area for about a month before returning home.  

"This whole month they will be staying here. They will be acquainted with multiple doctors and psychiatrists as well as PT," said Anna Ross, UkrHelp Foundation Executive Director.  "They will be attending adjustments as well, because they need to wear the prosthetics for a certain period of time, and it needs to be adjusted afterward."

If the effort is successful, organizers hope to help more wounded soldiers through the program in the future. 

"There’s a lot of people coming to us saying how can I donate, how can I help?," said Ross. 

Ross says people can help the UkrHelp foundation by donating on the group's website, or by attending a fundraiser.

UkrHelp Foundation Founder Alex Dudko says the next event will be a benefit concert, scheduled Thursday, March 30th at 6:30 pm.  That event is focused on raising funds for the foundation's children's programs.  A few weeks ago, the foundation brought children to the Seattle area who had lost their fathers to Russia's war on Ukraine. Fox 13 reported on that trip.  The concert will take place at 1133 Lake Washington Blvd N in Renton.