Deputy Director of the Center for Motherhood and Childhood, doctor Dmitry Bessonov.

Deputy Director of the Center for Motherhood and Childhood, doctor Dmitry Bessonov.

A photo: Alexey OVCHINNIKOV

While Ukrainian troops continue to shell Donetsk, life in the city does not stop. Transport works, a hospital is open and children are born … right under the bombing. So during a record-breaking strike on June 13, the maternity hospital suffered. Three children could not be lowered into a safe basement, and the deputy director of the center for motherhood and childhood, Dmitry Bessonov, together with the doctor and nurse on duty, literally covered them from shrapnel with their own bodies. They took a big risk, but they saved me!

On June 13, during a powerful artillery strike of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the maternity hospital was damaged.

On June 13, during a powerful artillery strike of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the maternity hospital was damaged.

A photo: Alexey OVCHINNIKOV

THREE ARE LEFT WITH THE BABIES

On that day, Dmitry Bessonov had a day off, family business, but they called from work: everything around the hospital is rattling, they end up in neighboring houses.

“Everyone who was possible was transferred to the basement,” recalls Dmitry Anatolyevich. – But upstairs, in the neonatal intensive care unit, there were a few babies left. Still, two babies were transferred, and three by no means could be disconnected from life support systems. I realized that the staff’s nerves were on edge, there was nothing left but to come. It seems to have become quieter, there was hope that everything was over …

But everything was just beginning.

June 13 was the most nightmarish day in the history of the shelling of Donetsk. Ukrainian militants fired more than 300 shells at the city, and all of them at civilian infrastructure and peaceful neighborhoods. Six people were killed and about forty people were injured. Shells flew to the market, the entrances of residential buildings, and the maternity hospital.

– The shelling intensified. All employees went to the basement. The nurse Tatiana Bondarenko and the doctor on duty Natalya Matyukhina stayed with me in the upstairs department,” the hero doctor continues. – They are experienced, but still girls. Girls who are scared. I was very afraid that they would panic and then there would be a disaster. But they kept their cool. We moved the children to the corridor, between two load-bearing walls.

The shell hit one of the rooms, literally ten meters from the place where the doctors with babies were.

The shell hit one of the rooms, literally ten meters from the place where the doctors with babies were.

A photo: Alexey OVCHINNIKOV

“THIS DOES NOT ADD HEALTH TO BIRTH GIRL”

And at about seven in the evening, the walls of the maternity hospital shuddered from a terrible blow – a shell hit one of the rooms, literally ten meters from the place where the doctors with the babies were.

– He broke through the roof, the blast wave knocked out the windows. Then they were counted – more than a hundred pieces. Lucky. Neither children nor staff were harmed. At first, someone said that one child was covered with glass, but this is not so. All of them were in the corridor at the time of the strike.

– And now?

– Now everything is fine. The very next day we transferred them to the intensive care unit of the republican children’s hospital – they just got better and could be transported, but on the day of the shelling it was impossible even to lower them into the basement. They needed literally 12-18 hours to get better.

We talk in the doctor’s office and periodically fall silent, listening to the rustling whistle of another Ukrainian shell flying by behind the rattling window and soon exploding somewhere nearby. And one more, and another – the shelling of the city continues to this day. Adult men are terrified of all these sounds, and one can only guess what pregnant women feel, who already have a lot of experiences.

– Of course, all this does not add health to women in labor, – Bessonov sighs. – For example, if a woman has a threat of premature birth, we try to make this risk go away, we treat it. But against the backdrop of such shelling, it’s like peas against a wall – a woman has stress, childbirth occurs earlier, a child is born prematurely. Children are worried, mothers are worried. Look, a mother feeds her child with milk, but if she is under stress, then her body gives “stressed” milk. Or maybe even disappear altogether. Is this a special hormonal bond between mother and child? This also affects.

The shell pierced the roof.

The shell pierced the roof.

A photo: Alexey OVCHINNIKOV

“IN 2014 THERE WERE TWO OF US LEFT IN THE DEPARTMENT…”

– There was no desire to leave here?

– Back in May 2014, when the Ukrainian troops began shelling the airport and the city, I received a call from several colleagues from Ukraine, with whom we communicated closely: “Come to us.” There were good offers – to the leading perinatal centers. But how will I be in another city when all this is at home? Renounce events and look for a better life? I can’t do that. Here are the graves of my parents, the city that I love, the center where I have been working for 27 years. After all, there are people here who need help too. And who, if not me?

And it is true. They know in Donetsk that by deciding to stay, Bessonov actually saved the newborn care service,

– There are not many such specialists, and many have left. They were scared, says the doctor. Almost everyone left our department. As of August 2014, only me and a young doctor who had just completed his internship remained in the department. If I left, it would be impossible to restore this service.

– And the family?

– The family stayed here – he points to the photographs hanging in his office. – This is the eldest daughter, she is a doctor, a pediatric surgeon. This is the youngest daughter and wife, they are now on the 5th floor – the wife is in charge of the department, and the daughter goes to work with us, because kindergartens have not been working for three months.

In the corridors of the center at this time, workers are covering broken windows with foil, and the staff is thinking about how to patch up a hole in the roof to save the building from rain.

The blast wave knocked out the stele.

The blast wave knocked out the stele.

A photo: Alexey OVCHINNIKOV

“WE HAVE EVERYTHING, BUT WE HAVE WANTS”

– Is there enough?

– Because of the war, we began to seriously fail in terms of security. But charitable foundations got involved, Dr. Liza came here … We have fine-tuned the system of interaction – we receive almost everything through humanitarian convoys. They adapted to the difficulties, but I would like some kind of stabilization to come, so that they can work comfortably and not think about whether there will be an opportunity to use this drug, whether they will buy it, whether they could bring it to the DPR or not.

– What about the equipment?

– Completed. Part of the equipment was received even during the war. We tried to make it an advanced clinic. We carry out the maximum amount of research right in the department – digital X-ray, ultrasound of everything that is possible, echo, laboratories, now we have our own specialist cardiologist with the necessary equipment. Only a few “wishlists” remain…

The perinatal center continues to work - what was destroyed is being restored.

The perinatal center continues to work – what was destroyed is being restored.

A photo: Alexey OVCHINNIKOV

– Name it.

– Our perinatal center is focused on collecting the most complex obstetric pathology, so the most difficult children are mostly born with us. Most often, these are premature and it is very important, when such a child is already on the mend, to follow his eyes (their eyes are a sore spot). And this requires a special study. And it is important to carry it out as early as possible, otherwise there may be problems with vision later. To do this study, we have to take the kids to the Republican Children’s Hospital. And this is not always possible, but time goes by. And if we could do such studies here, the risk would be minimized. Of course, much more is needed. For example, more breathing apparatus and so on. We have them and they are good, but given the load they work with, they quickly fail. And they need to be properly repaired – this is already a big challenge.

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