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Ukrainian soldier injured in war gets new limb in Maryland

<i>WBAL</i><br/>Oleksandr Chaika
Oleksandr Chaika

By Lowell Melser

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    SILVER SPRING, Maryland (WBAL) — A new program aimed at helping the most seriously injured Ukrainian soldiers is starting to see the fruit of its labor.

Operation Renew Prosthetics for Ukrainian Soldiers shared its first success story with help from Washington and the Silver Spring-based Medical Center Orthotics and Prosthetics.

Oleksandr Chaika, 33, was born in Ukraine and is an athlete, choreographer and acrobatics coach who joined the military to fight for his country. On April 4, while in close combat, a tank shell burst close to him and he lost his leg.

Chaika’s wife reached out to the Future for Ukraine Foundation, which started him down a path that led him to Silver Spring and a new prosthetic leg.

Through an interpreter, Chaika told 11 News of his struggles, but also his excitement to be able to walk again thanks to Operation Renew Prosthetics for Ukrainian Soldiers, a program started by the Medical Center for Orthotics and Prosthetics.

“I remember everything, every moment,” Chaika said. “This prosthetic will give me a lot of future because life is continued and I can do everything.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s office helped Chaika get to the U.S., arriving in Maryland a few weeks ago from Florida.

“These are the folks who help our wounded warriors at Walter Reed (National Military Medical Center), and it’s great to see them putting that expertise to use to help one of our Ukrainian friends and partners,” Van Hollen told 11 News.

One of the more emotional moments during a news conference Tuesday came when U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois — a pilot who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in Iraq — offered her support and encouragement.

“There was somebody who did this for me when I was first injured,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth told 11 News this program is vital as Ukraine doesn’t have enough resources.

“Some of these wounds … there’s just not capacity at all, and Ukraine and a lot of places, they just don’t have the expertise that exists here at Walter Reed,” Duckworth said.

How to contribute to Operation Renew Prosthetics for Ukrainian soldiers Donate online here. Under “gift designation,” select “Operation Renew Prosthetics.”

Brother’s Brother Foundation is a partner with Medical Center Orthotics and Prosthetics for Operation Renew Prosthetics, and 100% of the tax-deductible funds donated through BBF will be used to support ORP.

To contribute by check, make the check payable to Brother’s Brother Foundation, and note “Operation Renew Prosthetics” on the memo line, and send it to:

Brother’s Brother Foundation PO Box 645934 Pittsburgh, PA 15264-5257

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