Nevada Doctor Collects Medical Supplies for Ukraine

It takes a village to collect more than 350,000 dollars’ worth of medical supplies and equipment and then deliver it to a hospital in Ukraine. A global village, that is, comprised of a compassionate community in southern Nevada, Nova Ukraine, and a dedicated surgeon who never takes no for an answer.

When the war in Ukraine broke out, Las Vegas surgeon Linda Halderman felt helpless that she could not use her medical skills to heal the wounded in Ukraine. “It was very difficult for me to watch knowing that I can stop a hemorrhage and that 90 percent of war injuries that take lives are hemorrhage injuries,” she said. “I wanted to be there on the scene to help.”

Mission: Supply Ukraine

She made inquiries, but soon realized that without a military background she could not be of much help in the warzone. But by collecting medical supplies for hospitals on the frontlines she could help many more people than by applying tourniquets to the wounded herself.

Early in April Halderman began to get word out about her project via social media and through her large circle of personal and professional connections. This was a labor of love for the surgeon whose grandparents were all immigrants from Ukraine. Soon, the proverbial village came through — in more ways than she could have imagined.

Dr. Linda Halderman (center right) with Dr. Bill Rainer (right) and Viticus staff

The community rises to the challenge

Bill Rainer, a retired vascular surgeon from Colorado donated the entire contents of his former outpatient surgery center — valued over $100,000 — including 500 surgical instruments, a ventilator, and an anesthesia machine.

The ventilator was shipped in a custom built crate that can be reused as a children’s playhouse.

Bobby Layton, a master carpenter in Las Vegas, constructed a special crate in which to ship the heavy and fragile equipment. He even made it reusable: with a slight modification the crate could double as a children’s playhouse.

The Viticus Center, an education non-profit from Las Vegas, donated space at their warehouse for the donated medical supplies to be stored until they could be shipped to Ukraine. They even provided the packing materials and pallets in which the supplies would be shipped.

Further assistance came from countless other individuals and organizations, including the American College of Surgeons, the Clark County Office of Emergency Management, University Medical Center, and Ukrainians in Nevada.

The supplies were all on a list of critical supplies posted on the website of the Ukrainian Ministry of Health. Said Halderman: “The shortages experienced by frontline physicians and nurses were so basic. I spoke with a commander in Mykolaiv who told me, ‘we have a battalion with 200 men and six tourniquets.’ A tourniquet is a life! The idea that this little $20 plastic and cloth piece was not available was sickening.”

Transport to Ukraine

The job of transporting the supplies into a war zone across the world was beyond the financial and logistical ability of any one person. Enter Nova Ukraine. Our volunteers have become experts in coordinating the complexity of delivering medical supplies to the far corners of Ukraine, and have direct connections to hospitals where the supplies are needed most. Nova Ukraine handled all the complex logistics involved in this transport, from Las Vegas to Dnipro.

Viticus employee loads the pallets for transport

“Nova Ukraine volunteers said ‘Let’s make this happen.’ They figured out how to do it. There was a problem with a ventilator which exceeded the cargo space requirements. Within 48 hours they had the space for that piece as well.”

On May 16, a ton and a half of equipment and supplies was flown out of Los Angeles to Austria. From there it traveled by train to Poland, to Lviv in Ukraine, and finally to the Dnipro Regional Clinical Hospital II (Mechnikov). This hospital sits on the front lines and sees many wounded, as well as being in the center of several camps for internally displaced persons.

Six weeks was all it took from the time Halderman set the process in motion until the supplies landed in Dnipro.

“I want people to know this is possible,” Halderman says. “It doesn’t take a superman. You have to want it badly enough and never, never, never, never accept the word ‘no.’”

Halderman will continue her volunteer work on behalf of Ukraine and looks forward to the day when the war is over and she can travel to the land of her ancestors to help with the recovery effort. In the meantime, she says, “I hope Ukrainians know that at the very least, they’re not in this alone.”

Dr. Halderman’s story is just one shipment of many. Thanks to your donations, the Nova Ukraine medical team has supplied over 12 million dollars worth of medical supplies to over 140 hospitals in UkraineSupport our medical supply efforts in Ukraine  »

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