Ukrainian teen on road to recovery after shell strike

Svyatoslav was seriously wounded by shelling in eastern Ukraine, but the efforts of relatives, volunteers and doctors saved his life.

30 June 2022

Svyatoslav, 13, was returning home from a visit to his grandmother when the bombs began to fall in Lysychansk, eastern Ukraine, on 9 May.

There was no time to take cover in a shelter. In seconds, shrapnel had hit him in the neck, passing through his right lung and embedding itself above his diaphragm.

“I didn’t fall, but I felt like my arm had been ripped off. After a minute, I felt pain. I started screaming, ‘Mum, my arm’s been ripped off! Mum, my arm’s been ripped off!’ I thought I was going to fall unconscious and die.”

His mother Olena, a nurse at the local hospital, ran over to him and covered the wound with her hand. At the hospital, Svyatoslav was put into an induced coma.


He was then transferred to an intensive care unit in western Ukraine, where he recently underwent surgery. Doctors managed to remove a four-centimetre-long fragment of shrapnel and save Svyatoslav’s lung.

“It was a miracle that he was brought to us and survived,” says Yuriy Korol, a surgeon at the hospital in Lviv.


Following his surgery, Svyatoslav is recovering well. He is now able to venture outside and is looking forward to the moment when doctors will finally let him ride a bicycle.

He also dreams of rebuilding his family’s damaged house in Lysychansk.

As of 17 June, more than 900 children have been impacted by the violence in Ukraine. The Office of the Prosecutor General estimates that 322 children have been killed and at least 581 injured. However, the actual figures are probably much higher. To date, there have been 235 recorded attacks on medical facilities.

Since 24 February, more than 1.6 million people in Ukraine have been able to access health care through deliveries directly by UNICEF or implementing partners.