Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Russia, according to official data, has forcibly deported more than 13,000 children from Ukraine. Most often, it is orphans who suffer from the occupiers. Frequently, the caretakers of these orphans help the Russians, in fact, abduct Ukrainian children. But there are also cases when those on whom the fate of the orphans depends try to save the children from deportation in various ways.
The Slidstvo.Info journalists talked to a nurse, Tetiana Pavelko, who adopted a baby from the Kherson Children’s Regional Hospital and saved the child from illegal evacuation from Ukraine. The video has English subtitles.
“I WAS AFRAID THAT I WOULD BE CAPTURED BY THIS CHARMING PERSON”
During the 9 months of Kherson’s occupation, almost 200 babies were treated in the neonatal anesthesiology department of the Kherson Children’s Regional Hospital alone. Some of them were abandoned by their parents.
When the Russians announced the so-called evacuation before retreating from Kherson in November 2022, they planned to take the children with them. However, the hospital staff did not want to give the babies to the occupiers, so they resorted to tricks: they forged medical records, imitated connecting to artificial respiration devices, and a hospital nurse decided to adopt a child.
Tetiana Pavelko works as a nurse at the Kherson Children’s Regional Clinical Hospital. She told reporters that the newborn pathology department treated a girl named Kira, whom she wanted to adopt.
“A colleague, a senior nurse, came to visit me. She told me that there was a girl in the newborn pathology department. She said: ‘Don’t you want to see her, she’s so pretty, she looks like you,” Tetiana recalls.
The woman says that she did not immediately decide to go to the children’s ward because she was very worried.
“I didn’t go right away – I worked two shifts and only then decided to come. I was probably afraid of this, that I would be captured by this charming person (laughs – ed.). Somehow I couldn’t do anymore without her. So this is mine,” the nurse says.
“OF THOSE WHO WERE TAKEN, NONE HAVE RETURNED YET”
Tetiana Pavelko told reporters that they were not able to take the girl right away, but she and her husband constantly visited the baby.
“No matter what events were happening in the city, we did not leave her. We were very worried when the evacuation was announced, especially when it was announced to the hospitals – I was very afraid that Kira would be taken away,” the woman says.
Tetiana was told about the so-called evacuation of babies from the hospital by her colleagues. Shortly before that, she had seen people in the ward who were interested in the babies.
“I was visiting Kira once again, went upstairs and saw our management with a soldier (Russian military – ed.) and two women – they were watching the babies,” the nurse says.
According to Tetiana, the women were choosing several babies who were supposed to be taken away for allegedly medical treatment.
“Of those taken, none have returned yet… There were three babies in the chest ward – 3, 6 and 9 months old – and they were taken away. They said that they would provide professional treatment, and then their fate is unknown. These children are not there, they were from the orphanage,” says Tetiana.
As soon as the nurse came home from the hospital, she received a phone call saying that the babies were suddenly going to be “evacuated.” Tetiana called a taxi and went to see Kira so that she would not be taken away with the rest of the orphans. She later adopted the child.
“I WILL NOT ALLOW HER TO BE TAKEN AWAY”
The Russians appointed Viktor Burdovitsyn as acting chief physician, who became the “face” of the hospital. The man willingly appeared in propaganda materials, said that medicine was “outside politics,” and thanked the occupiers for their help.
The hospital made lists of children in different departments every day. These lists were constantly updated by the occupation authorities to have up-to-date information about the babies who were planned to be taken to Russia and the occupied territories.
“If the babies had parents, they asked for their permission. I understand that they took them with their parents if they wanted to leave. And those who did not have parents… I asked that Kira not be on this list,” says Tetiana.
Little Kira was lucky because she was adopted by Tetiana and was not taken to Russia. The woman made a lot of effort to be with the girl: she personally went to persuade the occupational hospital management not to touch the child.
“I thought I would make every effort, I was ready to come and take Kira away. Well, not to steal her, no, but to the point where I would take her away and that’s it, I would not allow her to be taken away,” says Kira’s mother.
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