26 January 2023
First Ukrainian soldiers arrive in Malta for prosthetic treatment as part of amputee rehabilitation program
Pictured: Nadine Delicata, MD, Armin Ernst, MD, Ian Fothergill, Vitaly Tarusin, Andriy Konovalov, Prof. Robert Gailey, Olena Nikolaienko

Steward Health Care Malta (SHCM) has welcomed the first two Ukrainian soldiers who are receiving treatment in Malta as part of a Ukrainian amputee rehabilitation program named Project Renew. Leading prosthetics provider MCOP International (MCOPi), SHCM, Steward Health Care International (SHCI) and the charitable foundation Future for Ukraine (FFU) will assist as many as 24 victims of the war in Ukraine throughout 2023 in Malta. The program is supported by the Government of Malta, through the Ministry for Health.

The first Ukrainian soldiers to benefit from this program are being supported by Anna Kovaleva, founder of FFU, as well as Olena Nikolaienko, CEO and Head of Strategy and Development of FFU Poland.

Vitaly Tarusin, 32, comes from the city of Kharkiv where he lived with his family, working as a builder and interior decorator. When the Russian invasion started, Vitaly decided to join the Ukrainian army to defend his homeland, despite having no prior military experience. On 2 October 2022, Vitaly was injured on a combat mission from artillery, tank and mortar fire. This left him needing an amputation of the left lower leg as well as wounded from a gunshot fragment. Andriy Konovalov, 45, lived in the city of Kramatorsk, in February 2022, Before the Russian invasion, he decided to fight for the sake of his daughters and joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces. There he was trained and then sent to combat as an infantryman. On 7 October, whilst carrying out a combat mission, Andriy was severely injured by a landmine. Immediately after the injury, Andriy was taken to a field hospital and eventually to Kharkiv hospital.

Vitaly and Andriy are just two of more than 3,000 Ukrainians who have lost a limb in the war, primarily due to bomb blasts and other explosions. The two soldiers are undergoing an advanced care model developed by SHCM and MCOPi professionals that will provide them with prosthetic legs as well as therapy and training for victims, returning them to full function and allowing them to return home. They recently arrived in Malta and are being cared for by the teams at the Orthotics and Prosthetics Unit and the Vascular and Amputee Rehabilitation Unit at St Luke’s and Karin Grech Rehabilitation Hospital, managed by Steward Healthcare Malta.

Armin Ernst, MD, CEO and President of SHCI said: “Steward Health Care is honoured to be part of this important initiative, building on our long-term partnership with the Government of Malta and MCOPi to contribute towards providing support to victims of the war in the Ukraine and help them build a better future. Our priority is to deliver coordinated treatment in the right place at the right time, so that our patients can spend more time pursuing healthy, active lives and less time in hospital.”

Ian Fothergill, CEO at MCOPi said: “We are very excited to launch Project Renew in Malta.“The next and ultimate step will be to create a state-of-the-art centre in Ukraine itself. The centre would not only provide care, but also hire Ukrainians and train them in providing the best healthcare and rehabilitation methods for the most complex cases, using the most advanced techniques”.

Olena Nikolaienko from FFU stated: "FFU would like to thank its partners, patrons, and donors for rallying behind our cause and finding opportunities to provide such important assistance to our soldiers who, at the cost of their health, fight for freedom and democratic values for the whole world.

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