“The skin is alive – it’s all because of you.”

“Here – you do it.” These were the words of our Co-Founder David, as he handed a skin grafting instrument to Ivan, a junior doctor in eastern Ukraine attending our surgical training course.

During a Russian shelling, a woman suffered catastrophic leg injuries. Working to repair her wound during a mission in Ukraine, David used the surgery as an opportunity to train local doctors.

He showed them how to perform a skin graft to treat the injury – and that wrapping the graft in fluffy gauze can help with healing. This technique differs to standard wound treatment, which often involves the application of antiseptic spirits and bandages.

David and Ivan have kept in touch since his returned to the UK – a common story for David and our trainers. We are proud to have created a supportive community of war doctors that can ask questions or share cases with us at any time, from anywhere.

When Ivan looked at his patient’s wound in recovery, he was overwhelmed with joy to see that it was healing. During a phone call, he shared with David:

“The skin is alive! It’s all because of you.

I’ve started a little revolution in my hospital. I’ve started to do what you do – using the fluffy gauze for skin grafts. The patient’s granulation (tissue that is an important component of wound healing) is awesome. We haven’t needed to use any antibiotics.

It was one of the best moments of my life doing this operation. I can only say thank you for your knowledge.”

Ivan, a junior doctor facing the horrors of his country’s war, is now armed with a skill that can be used to treat devastating injuries. He plans to teach this technique to his peers – and potentially even senior doctors who typically use other methods.

Although unusual for a junior doctor to teach senior consultants, in war, titles are stripped away. All that matters is the sharing of knowledge and saving of lives.

To carry out the next phase of the patient’s skin graft surgery, David offered his help over Skype. Ivan and his father, a Chief of Surgery based in Kharkiv, will work together with David to rebuild the woman’s leg and remove as many traces of the evidence of war as possible.

Surgery over Skype isn’t new to our Co-Founder. During the historic siege in Aleppo, David guided surgeons online as they reconstructed a man’s shattered jaw. The Syrian surgeons, Dr Assaf and Dr Baydak, successfully carried out the operation and put the man’s face back together again.

The stark similarities between Syrian and Ukrainian conflict do not go unnoticed. As witnessed in Aleppo, healthcare workers in Ukraine are in urgent need of our support. As the war continues to wage on, we are more driven than ever to train doctors and help them prevent needless deaths.

“You have given me new breath in surgery,” shared Ivan. “You were not scared to come here and share knowledge. Thank you.”

More on our training in Ukraine