14 surgeries on her arm: How the life of a 12-year-old girl changed after a Russian missile strike

Kseniіa Verbytska from Chernihiv, who was injured in a missile strike last summer, has undergone 14 surgeries, the longest of which lasted seven and a half hours. In May of this year, she traveled with her mother, Lada Verbytska, to the UK, to a town near Birmingham, to consult with plastic surgeons.

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Lada and Kseniia Verbytska. Photo from the family archive.
Lada and Kseniia Verbytska. Photo from the family archive.

Kseniіa is always accompanied by her mother. All the responsibilities for saving their daughter have fallen on her parents' shoulders. Kseniya's mother works as a nurse in the rheumatology department of the Chernihiv Regional Hospital. Her father earns a living working as a loader and driver at a furniture factory.

The parents say they have spent all their savings on their child's treatment. According to them, a trip to a Kyiv hospital costs no less than 20,000 hryvnias.

Life Turned Upside Down

Previously, Kseniіa went to school, danced, practiced capoeira, and hung out with friends. Now she studies online at home and only goes out to walk with her dog.

"Since August 19, our lives have been turned upside down," says Lada Verbytska via video call, with Kseniіa sitting next to her.

That day, the Russian army destroyed the building of the Chernihiv Drama Theater with an Iskander-K missile, where a meeting of drone manufacturers was taking place. Seven people were killed in the strike, including a six-year-old girl. Over two hundred people were injured, among them 12 children (it was a religious holiday, Spas, and many townspeople were in the central square).

Kseniya was among the injured, nearly losing her right arm that day. When the missile hit, she and her mother were near a bench close to the theater, where they wanted to sell handmade woven bracelets to raise money for the military.

They were almost at the epicenter of the explosion.

"All these months, we have been fighting to make Kseniіa's right arm function at least a little. The hardest surgeries are behind us. The doctors saved her arm, but it is deformed. It is thinner in some places, thicker in others, and covered in scars. Even though I am a medic, it's scary to look at. We face cosmetic surgery and rehabilitation, but the doctors warn that it's too early to think about that; we need to partially restore function first," says Lada.

Her left arm has become her primary one, while her right arm is almost non-functional.

Now, when Kseniіa hears an air raid siren, she becomes nervous. At home, they go to the corridor. In the Kyiv hospital, they ran from the ward to the shelter and heard the air defense systems in action three times.

Challenging Surgeries

"Overall, my daughter feels more or less okay now," continues Lada. "Her arm is fixed in a cast. Ahead is nerve ending surgery. The fingers on her right hand are bent; tendons need to be implanted. A bone transplant was done, taking seven centimeters from her fibula. Metal plates were installed. But a fistula formed, pushing the foreign body out. Pus constantly leaks from that hole, and I clean the wounds twice a day."

In early June, they received a consultation at a Birmingham hospital, thanks to Nick, one of the foreign sponsors of "Okhmatdyt." He paid for their travel and arranged for a family to host them for a month.

The apartment owner where they stayed is from Hong Kong, and the hostess is Filipino. They have a five-year-old child and gave the Chernihiv residents a separate room. They took them to a mountain resort for three days to distract them from their problems.

Sugar Control and Diet

At work, Verbytska takes sick leave when she needs to accompany her daughter. While abroad, she took unpaid leave. The management of the regional hospital understands their situation, has not fired her, and supports her. Kseniіa cannot be left alone. On top of everything, she has diabetes. Her blood sugar levels need to be constantly monitored, a diet must be maintained, and calories counted.

During the day, while her mother is at work, her father takes care of her: he has also learned to do dressings, clean the wound, and administer insulin.

Kseniіa uses special equipment with sensors to monitor her blood sugar levels. The device constantly checks her sugar levels, which is more convenient than taking blood from her fingers for tests. However, new equipment needs to be purchased every two weeks, costing about two thousand hryvnias.

Her mother says they are willing to go without bread to buy these sensors, as blood sugar levels affect how her arm heals.

If you would like to help Kseniіa Verbytska, write to the editorial office, and we will share Lada Verbytska's card details with her permission.

russo-ukrainian war Chernihiv eng war crimes rocket attack

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