Radiology suffers in missile attack on Kyiv pediatric hospital

X-ray and ultrasound machines were badly damaged in a rocket attack on Ukraine's largest children's hospital on July 8, according to radiologist Stanislav Rebenkov, MD. It will take months to recover, he said.

"This is a very big crime," he told AuntMinnnie.com in a phone interview on July 9. "There are broken windows everywhere. It will take months to recover, but it makes us feel even more united and determined to rebuild."

The search for survivors beneath the rubble was completed on Tuesday morning. All photos courtesy of Stanislav Rebenkov, MD.The search for survivors beneath the rubble was completed on Tuesday morning. All photos courtesy of Stanislav Rebenkov, MD.

Rebenkov has been head of radiology at Ohmatdyt Children's Hospital since 2020. He said he was very relieved that none of his staff of 90 people were injured. The hospital's three CT scanners, one MRI system, and one linac (linear accelerator) device appear to be unaffected, but several mobile x-ray and ultrasound units were struck, and a full assessment of imaging equipment located in two different buildings is now underway, he explained.

The attack happened at around 10 a.m. local time. A Russian KH-101 hypersonic missile smashed through the roof of the building, injuring more than 30 people, according to an article in The Telegraph. The Kremlin has denied carrying out the attack -- which has so far killed two people -- and foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova claimed the blast was caused by a misfiring air defense missile, BBC News reported on July 9.

Broken glass and damaged equipment are found throughout the hospital.Broken glass and damaged equipment are found throughout the hospital.

Rebenkov said he would welcome any support from the global radiology community. In particular, he would appreciate any offers of short-term fellowships for his staff over the coming weeks and months while the department at Ohmatdyt is rebuilt. "It's so important for our young radiologists and techs to keep studying," he said.

Also, he said he would value any equipment donations. In particular, the facility lacks a modern PACS and clinical decision-support tools.

Efforts are underway to assess the scale of the damage in the radiology department.Efforts are underway to assess the scale of the damage in the radiology department.

Regular power cuts in Kyiv are a particular problem, Rebenkov said. In an article posted on May 11, 2023, by the Global Coalition for Radiotherapy, he spoke about the commitment to deliver care despite the challenges.

"There were problems with getting to work, and many employees simply could not get in the hospital or found themselves under occupation. And in these conditions, all the equipment of our hospital worked 24/7, thanks to those people who were staying in the hospital around the clock for more than three or four months," he said.

Editor's Note: Since this article was written, we have received the following letter from Dr. Rebenkov.

National Children's Hospital "Okhmatdyt" Damaged by Missile Strike: Radiology Department Actively Working on Restoration

Kyiv, Ukraine – July 9, 2024 – As a result of a Russian missile attack, the National Specialized Children's Hospital "Okhmatdyt" suffered significant damage. The attack affected critical departments, including the radiology department, which encompasses the Diagnostic Imaging department, Radiation Therapy Department, Nuclear Medicine Department, Radiation safety, and Ultrasound diagnostics. The attack caused significant damage to many medical and other equipment. Fortunately, we managed to save the CT, MRI, PET\SPECT and our linear accelerator, but the mobile X-ray machine, ultrasound devices, mobile CT scanner, intraoperative X-ray machines, numerous doctor's workstations, computers, and printers were damaged. Most of the offices were destroyed or damaged. Despite the critical damage to the electrical substation, we managed to restore the operation of the MRI and the linear accelerator to continue the diagnosis and treatment of our patients with oncological pathology. We are striving to restore all our operations as soon as possible and would appreciate any assistance.

Yesterday, at 9:52 AM, after the air raid siren, hospital staff began evacuating patients to the bomb shelter. This is challenging, especially with children in intensive care. Over the past two and a half years of war, our staff has done everything possible during each attack to save lives and minimize casualties. At the time of the attack, more than 600 patients and approximately the same number of medical staff were in the hospital. Children were on drips, on dialysis, in intensive care. Three heart surgeries were in progress. Stopping them would have been life-threatening.

At 10:42 AM, we felt a powerful explosion. The ground shook, and the walls trembled. Children and adults screamed and cried in fear, and the wounded from pain. It was a real hell. The missile hit the intensive care unit and the chronic intoxications therapy department. This part of the building was completely destroyed. Cries for help could be heard from under the rubble.

As a result of the attack, more than 300 people were injured, including 8 children. Two adults died, one of them a doctor. The primary goal now is to evacuate patients who depend on life-support systems. Over 600 patients have been evacuated, with more than 100 transferred to other hospitals. The evacuation continues. Our medical staff has also been sent to other hospitals to provide medical aid.

The toxicology and traumatology buildings were completely destroyed. Part of the country's only oncology laboratory was destroyed. In total, 24 departments were damaged: 10 surgical departments, 5 oncology departments, 3 intensive care units, 2 operating blocks, 2 somatic departments, the radiology department, prenatal care department, and radiation therapy department.

We were forced to suspend the operations of the toxicology and emergency medical care departments. The trauma unit is no longer operational. Damage assessment is ongoing. This strike will have long-term consequences. Patients will face a shortage of medical care, and our specialized services with high-tech equipment will not be restored quickly. This will have serious long-term impacts on Ukrainian children needing medical care. 

The psychological trauma inflicted on children by this attack is severe and may last a lifetime. Attacking a children's hospital, where children are treated for cancer and other serious diseases, is not just a war crime; it is beyond the bounds of humanity. Our doctors and staff continue to save children's lives even under missile and fire attacks. We will not surrender! 

You can help us in the following ways: 

  • By making charitable donations to the official fund of the "Okhmatdyt" hospital
  • By purchasing or donating medical equipment and software (a list of needs is attached)
  • By providing staff training through fellowships for radiologists, medical physicists, technitians and others specialists, lasting from 1 to 3 months

With Kind regards,

Stanislav Riebienkov

Head of Radiology Center

+380932076088 

For additional information and assistance: Email: [email protected] Website: Okhmatdyt 

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