Nov. 18, 2022
Libin Institute director leads effort to send essential medical supplies to Ukraine
Dr. Paul Fedak, MD, PhD, was moved to action watching a video of how the surgical and care team at the Heart Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, pivoted to care for patients in a bomb shelter.
“It really shook me, I’m a heart surgeon and director of a heart research institute. I know the challenges,” says Fedak, heart surgeon at Foothills Medical Centre and director of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute at the Cumming School of Medicine. “People there are very creative. They found all kinds of ways to get things done and that’s part of what inspires me.”
Fedak reached out on social media to Dr. Igor Mokryk, chief of the Department of Adult Cardiac Surgery at the Heart Institute in Kyiv and the heart surgeon who posted the video. First Fedak wanted to know how Mokryk was, and then to learn what supplies were needed. Mokryk brought the director of the Heart Institute into the conversation and a list of essential supplies was quickly created that Fedak set out to fill with the help of executive director Amanda Weiss of Alberta Health Services. She mobilized her team to find the needed supplies.
“Being in a leadership position, I know who to contact at the Foothills Medical Centre, how to mobilize nursing managers to go through units, scour hallways and cupboards. Ask, is there anything not being used that could be given up without impacting patient care?” says Fedak. “Often times the systems change here and we get newer equipment and then some of the supplies, the disposables, that support the older equipment, are just not usable for us.”
The shipment of 30 boxes includes personal protective equipment, dressings, catheters, syringes and defibrillator electrodes, all of which were either surplus or past their recommended shelf life. All materials are safe for use and there is no impact to patient care in Alberta.
“It’s a really nice win, where these things would probably be discarded and thrown in the garbage, now they’re going to probably save lives. It's kind of amazing.”
He is hoping this small act will be a spark to raise awareness of what you can do – even on a small grassroots level to try to make a difference. He says while the video moved him to action, his own family history has played a role.
“I’m also Ukrainian-Canadian. I grew up understanding the oppression of communism and heard lots of stories of the atrocities. It broke my heart to think what was happening there.”
Paul Fedak, MD, PhD, is a professor in the departments of Cardiac Sciences and Surgery at the Cumming School of Medicine. He is also the director of Libin Cardiovascular Institute.