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Ukrainian physicians call on Iowans in time of need

Here's how you can help Ukrainians during the Russian invasion.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Two years after a trio of Ukrainian physicians came to Des Moines to learn more about the American health care system, the group is calling on Iowans—and all Americans—to continue raising awareness of the crisis abroad.

Dr. Anstasiia Khodan, Dr. Ihor Zastavnyy and Dr. Marinia Халімоненко stayed with Dr. Tom Benzoni in 2020 through Iowa Sister States, an organization connecting medical professionals around the world.

"I took them up to Boone to see what a small rural hospital looks like, we took them over to Methodist to see what the huge level one hospitals look like, to come over to Des Moines University to see what the educational institutions look like," Benzoni said. "So they just they got a chance to meet a lot of our healthcare leadership in central Iowa."

With Ukraine under attack, the physicians are now calling on the Des Moines area to show support for their country.

"It's not war, it's terrorism," Халімоненко said. "We need you to pray for us."

Khodan and Zastavnyy say this is a war against humanity as Russia proceeds to bomb Ukraine's critical buildings. 

"The hospitals have bombed our children in the perinatal standards are right now in bomb shelters, they should be in incubators. But they are in shelters, the woman gives birth in basements," Khodan said.

The pair say people in Des Moines can help Ukraine by cutting any financial ties with Russia. 

"We must try to make them weaker, because the stronger they are, the more civilians—and not civilians—in hospitals and pregnant women will die in Ukraine," Zastavnyy said.

Regardless of the danger, the doctors are committed to standing with their country.

"We will stay here and we will help our people as physicians as long as we can," Khodan said.

The doctors say they are most in need of tourniquets and more tactical medicine instructors.

RELATED: Marshalltown native flees Ukraine with family

How you can help:

  • Donate to online to the HelpUkraine Initiative: Organized by Ukrainian logistics companies and volunteers, the group delivers drugs and medical devices to Ukraine from its warehouse in Poland. Then they distribute shipments according to the needs of the armed forces and civil medical system. 
  • Deliver drugs or medical devices you already have. To do this, you have to arrange a shipment to the warehouse in Chelm, Poland. Find a list of items needed and instructions for packaging here.
  • You can also donate money for the purchase of drugs and medical devices through the Ernst Prost Foundation here.

RELATED: Iowa liquor seller not concerned with state's Russian alcohol boycott, sees opportunity for Ukrainian brands

WATCH | 5 things you should know about Russia's invasion of Ukraine 

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