Ukrainian trauma surgeon fights his own battle
May 22, 2023

Petro Nikitin, a dedicated Ukrainian trauma surgeon at a military hospital in Kiev finds himself immersed in the heart of a war that rages hundreds of kilometers away. With unwavering commitment, the 59-year-old doctor devotes his life to repairing the bodies of some of the most severely wounded soldiers, shouldering an all-consuming responsibility.

Nikitin, who describes himself as a man who “only operates,” has made significant sacrifices in his personal life. With his wife and children evacuated from Ukraine as Russian forces closed in on Kyiv in March 2022, Nikitin accompanied them to the border but returned to the city to continue his vital work.

The toll of the conflict is staggering, with casualty figures difficult to obtain. According to Western sources, it is estimated that over 100,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed or wounded since Russia’s invasion nearly 15 months ago.

The recent weeks have seen intensified fighting, particularly in the eastern city of Bakhmut in the war’s longest and bloodiest battle.

Nikitin, as the lead trauma surgeon at a top-level military hospital, faces the immense challenge of treating complex cases. The hospital specializes in caring for patients who have been stabilized at the front lines and subsequently transferred to the capital. The facility operates with a depleted staff, as physicians are often reassigned to field hospitals closer to the front, underscoring the critical need for medical resources in the region.

The war has introduced a new level of trauma for Nikitin and his colleagues. Gunshot wounds, though rare, have given way to a range of injuries caused by explosive weapons such as landmines, artillery shells, and grenades.

Despite the challenging circumstances, The Ukrainian trauma surgeon remains focused on his mission to restore wounded soldiers to a semblance of normalcy. While acknowledging that first aid and initial life-saving interventions are provided by medics in the field, Nikitin’s role at the military hospital revolves around returning patients to a quality of life they can embrace.

Nikitin’s tireless efforts exemplify the collaborative nature of Ukraine’s medical system. From the front lines to field hospitals and specialized trauma centers like his own, healthcare professionals work together to provide comprehensive care for the wounded.

The demands of the conflict have pushed Ukraine’s healthcare system to its limits. Nikitin’s schedule has lightened to approximately three surgeries per day, allowing him to provide focused attention to each case.

Nikitin’s dedication extends beyond the operating room. He invests countless hours in continuous education and professional development, ensuring he is equipped with the latest knowledge and techniques to address the unique challenges posed by the war’s traumas. His proactive efforts include organizing online training sessions for trauma specialists and collaborating with renowned experts from around the world.

The stories of healthcare professionals like Nikitin shed light on the indomitable spirit of those who serve on the front lines of medical response during times of war. Their unwavering commitment, sacrifice, and resilience remind us of the critical importance of providing support and resources to those affected by conflict.

As the Ukrainian trauma surgeon and his colleagues continue to navigate the harrowing realities of the ongoing war, their dedication serves as a testament to the strength and determination of the human spirit. Their unwavering commitment to healing, restoring lives, and rebuilding communities stand as a beacon of hope during adversity.

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