Lyudmila’s Story: Unable to Afford Surgery in Irpin, Ukraine

"I cannot bend my knee. Doctors say I need surgery, which costs 5,000 USD. I don't have that kind of money. I'm also afraid of such an operation."

Lyudmila Kryvych, 73, is from Irpin, a small town flanking Ukraine’s capital. The town made headlines in the first months of the war for the destruction it saw at the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Lyudmila was there through it all, hiding from bullets and shells in a bomb shelter. Those weeks in active warfare, without electricity and heating, severely affected her already-frail health.

“My health is not very good. My nervous system was damaged after all this.”

She started getting frequent episodes of dizziness that the doctor recently identified as a neurological disorder caused by stress. Effective treatment requires medicines that are no longer available in Ukraine. She received some from the volunteers distributing assistance in Irpin last summer and has found them very efficient.

She also has problems with her joints.

“I cannot bend my knee. Doctors say I need surgery, which costs 5,000 USD. I don’t have that kind of money. I’m also afraid of such an operation,” she says.

Lyudmila lives alone in a small apartment in an old, soviet residential building, while the town is being rebuilt after the destruction. The main problem is the medicines and finances, she says.

Her pension of 6,000UAH (135GBP) barely covers daily expenses and utilities. In 2022, she received food and hygiene items from HelpAge and free medical consulting from other organizations and private clinics, but not much else.

She, like many other Ukrainians her age, struggles with receiving information on available assistance.

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