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The Okhmatdyt children’s hospital in Kyiv after the Russian missile strike on July 8

Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital has treated patients throughout the war. Today, a Russian missile strike killed one of its doctors.

Source: Meduza
The Okhmatdyt children’s hospital in Kyiv after the Russian missile strike on July 8
The Okhmatdyt children’s hospital in Kyiv after the Russian missile strike on July 8
Thomas Peter / Reuters / Scanpix / LETA
Over the next several days, all donations to Let’s Help (a fundraiser cofounded by Meduza to support Ukrainian civilians who have suffered from Russia’s war) will go towards supporting Okhmatdyt Hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital. At the time of this writing, within hours of Russia’s July 8 missile attack on the hospital, the project has received more than 10,000 euros.

A Russian attack on Ukraine’s largest children’s hospital killed at least two people on July 8. At the time of this writing, rescue workers and volunteers were still sifting through the rubble at the Okhmatdyt hospital in Kyiv. According to preliminary reports, the strike largely destroyed the hospital’s toxicology ward and shattered the windows of other buildings. Ukraine’s Health Minister Viktor Liashko later reported that the strike also damaged the oncology ward, as well as intensive care units and operating rooms where doctors were performing surgeries. 

The Okhmatdyt children’s hospital treats as many as 18,000 patients annually, offering a wide range of diagnostics, surgeries, and cancer treatments. Following the Russian attack, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described Okhmatdyt as “one of the most important children’s hospitals not only in Ukraine, but also in Europe.” 

The hospital was hit during a deadly wave of Russian missile strikes on cities across Ukraine on July 8. In Kyiv, at least 27 people were killed and 82 injured. Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko declared July 9 a day of mourning.

A long history

Okhmadyt’s story begins in 1894, with the opening of the Kyiv Free Hospital for Laborers and the Poor, a medical institution funded by businessman and philanthropist Mykola Tereshchenko. After the Bolsheviks took control of Ukraine in 1921, the Kyiv Free Hospital was converted into a children’s hospital, which, from 1929 onwards, worked closely with the Institute for the Protection of Motherhood and Childhood — known as Okhmatdyt, for short. 

In 1934, Okhmatdyt merged with the Institute for Adolescent Health. The hospital’s structure continued to expand throughout the 1940s and after World War II, it was officially renamed the United Hospital of the Institute for the Protection of Motherhood and Childhood “Okhmatdyt.” 

The construction of Okhmatdyt’s new hospital buildings began in 2011. Following the first phase of renovations, a 26,000-square-meter (nearly 280,000-square-foot) medical complex was put into operation in December 2017. When the second phase was completed in 2020, President Zelensky himself took part in the grand opening. 

Office of the President of Ukraine
Office of the President of Ukraine

“It’s a wonderful, fantastic day here today. Six new wards have been opened. This will help save the lives of Ukrainian children,” Zelensky said at the time. The hospital, he added, now boasted “the best technology there is in the world today.”

The renovations increased the number of hospital beds at Okhmatdyt from 620 to 720, and the number of operating rooms from six to 12. The hospital’s laboratory also received more modern equipment. 

According to Oleksandr Lysytsia, the head of Okhmatdyt’s bone marrow transplant division, the new building opened in 2020 was damaged in the July 8 attack. 

Okhmatdyt in wartime

After Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Okhmatdyt began evacuating patients abroad or to relatively safer regions of Ukraine. But the hospital continued to offer treatment — and began to admit wounded children. 

Ihor Mirochnyk, the hospital’s head of surgery, told the Ukrainian news outlet NV that the staff set up three operating rooms “downstairs” because they were afraid of working on the higher floors. 

Three year old Vova and his mother Olha shelter in the basement of Okhmatdyt
Felipe Dana / AP / Scanpix / LETA

“We began preparing on the eve of the war, knowing all the risks. We prepared supplies so that we could continue our work without stopping in case anything happened,” said Okhmatdyt medical director Serhii Chernyshuk. Chernyshuk also told journalists that volunteers from all over the world were sending the hospital food and medicine. 

According to Okhmatdyt CEO Volodymyr Zhovnir, the hospital came under shelling from small arms several times during the first weeks of the full-scale invasion. A missile shot down by Ukrainian air defense exploded over the medical complex on March 5, 2022, but no one was injured. 

On March 16, 2022, missile debris landed on the balcony of the neonatal surgery department and on the hospital’s grounds after a strike on a nearby building; the blast wave shattered the pediatric ward’s windows and damaged the neurology ward’s ceiling. Fortunately, no one was injured. Later that month, the sale of an anti-war artwork by the British street artist Banksy raised more than $100,000 for Okhmatdyt. 

In October 2022, pediatric hematologist Oksana Leontieva was killed in a Russian airstrike while on her way to work at Okhmatdyt. According to The Washington Post, she was just a mile from the hospital. 

The Russian missile strike on Okhmatdyt on July 8 killed at least two adults, one of whom was a doctor. Another 16 people were injured, including seven children. 


Russian missile attack on cities throughout Ukraine kills at least 36, hits children’s hospital


Russian missile attack on cities throughout Ukraine kills at least 36, hits children’s hospital

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