Local doctors travel to Ukraine to help those in need

NOW: Local doctors travel to Ukraine to help those in need

ST. JOSEPH, Mich.— The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to cause damage, destruction and devastation, and is also leaving innocent people caught in the crossfire injured, and in desperate need of help and support. To join in on the global efforts to help those in need in Ukraine, a group of 8 doctors are traveling there to help.

When Doctor Sherrell O’Donnell of St. Joseph, Michigan, along with other doctors from Michigan, Atlanta, Tulsa, and Louisiana saw the scope of what’s happening in Ukraine, they decided to join forces, and looked into what needed to be done in order to get tickets and fly there. After waiting some time for the green-light, they departed for their long journey overseas to Ukraine on Monday to treat injured civilians.

“When the war first broke out in Ukraine, am I supposed to respond or not,” Dr. Sherrell O’Donnell said. “But the more that I've seen and hear, I realize that the civilians are just being attacked and fleeing by the millions, and started thinking are we supposed to go. Usually when that happens I respond 1 of 3 ways: I send supplied, I go myself, or I just pray and sometimes it’s a combination of all those and I just felt the urgency and the need to go.”

The group of Michigan doctors left O’Donnell’s office in St. Joseph at around 7 AM, to make it to the Chicago airport by 8:30 AM to meet with the others. Their flight on Turkish Airlines departed at 11:30 AM, and are expected to arrive in Ukraine Tuesday afternoon.

The process to get the OK to travel to Ukraine, though, wasn’t an easy one, as they had to make sure they had a place to stay, had proper transportation, food and hydration plans, along with confirming a game plan on where and in what cities they will set up their clinics at. It wasn’t until last week on Thursday, just 4 days ago, when they were approved to book a flight and leave.

With the help from volunteers and some overtime work from pharmacies, they’ll be bringing along more than $10,000 of their own medicine and supplies to help aid Ukrainian citizens.

"What always is amazing is the support of the volunteers also, for the past couple of weeks we've had supplies being brought in and hygiene kits being brought in,” O’Donnell said.

Dr. O’Donnell says that while the trip is somber in some ways, she feels empowered to use her expertise to help those who need it the most during a tragic time.

"We will be sending subsequent teams there, so this trip is really a scouting trip and we want to make sure where we really set up base and clinic is going to be sufficient for subsequent teams and is going to be safe and that the need is there. We want to match the need with the skillset that we send,” O’Donnell said. "I’m very eager to look and meet up with the rest of the team members that are coming, but it’s all hands-on deck and people just help and that's always so influential.”

The group will stay in Ukraine for the whole week, and return back to the United States on Sunday.

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