Retired Florida physician travels to Ukraine to assist infants and newborns impacted by Russia’s invasion

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A Florida physician who was spending his retirement years instructing and volunteering lately returned to work after seeing the devastation attributable to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As an alternative of returning to his personal observe in Sarasota, Florida, nonetheless, Dr. Paul Runge flew hundreds of miles to assist Ukrainian newborns and infants.

“I wasn’t prepared to simply sit round and do nothing for the remaining a part of my life,” he informed the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, throughout a telephone interview whereas he was in Ivano-Frankivsk, a Western Ukrainian metropolis. “I used to be sitting at house like everyone else, watching [the war] unfold and simply questioning what I might do.”

IVANO-FRANKIVSK, UKRAINE - FEBRUARY 23, 2021 - A contactless thermometer at the Regional Clinical Hospital of the Ivano-Frankivsk Regional Council that treats people with COVID-19, Ivano-Frankivsk, western Ukraine. 

IVANO-FRANKIVSK, UKRAINE – FEBRUARY 23, 2021 – A contactless thermometer on the Regional Scientific Hospital of the Ivano-Frankivsk Regional Council that treats folks with COVID-19, Ivano-Frankivsk, western Ukraine. 
(Yurii Rylchuk/ Ukrinform/Future Publishing through Getty Photos)

Runge then reached out to some contacts in Western Ukraine and left for the war-torn nation on July 4. Throughout a 10-day go to, the retired ophthalmologist helped docs all through Ukraine.


Runge began his journey 80 miles north of Lviv, earlier than he joined a youngsters’s hospital neonatal intensive care unit in Ivano-Frankivsk. He additionally helped a neighboring military hospital.

“I used to be actually excited after I realized that, No. 1, they needed me, and No. 2, I might actually be of assist,” Runge stated. “I don’t wish to be like a bull in a China store and inform everyone ‘hey, you gotta do it this fashion, that’s the best way we do it.’ however I’ve actually loved being right here.”

“(The docs) are very enthusiastic. They’re not pushed by cash,” he added. “They’re eager to do pretty much as good of a job as they probably can for his or her sufferers. It’s such a novel and refreshing expertise.”

The July go to was merely the start for Runge, who flew again to Ukraine on Sept. 10.


The board-certified ophthalmologist says he intends to spend the remainder of the month in Ivano-Frankivsk, serving to the place he can and making a distinction regardless of the continued struggle efforts.

“This morning we have been woke up by air raid sirens, and after I arrived on the hospital, all of the sufferers and employees have been within the basement bomb shelter,” Runge stated in a press release. “Nothing uncommon transpired, and we have been again to work in lower than an hour.”

SIVERSK, DONETSK PROVINCE, UKRAINE, JULY 08: Ukrainian serviceman ride on top of a tank towards the battlefield nearby Siversk, Ukraine, July 08th, 2022. 

SIVERSK, DONETSK PROVINCE, UKRAINE, JULY 08: Ukrainian serviceman experience on high of a tank in the direction of the battlefield close by Siversk, Ukraine, July 08th, 2022. 
(Narciso Contreras/Anadolu Company through Getty Photos)

The battle for survival is obvious all through Ukraine and speaks to their willpower to fend off their bigger adversary.

“(Ukrainians) have a typical trigger. All they speak about is how the nation has pulled collectively to defeat these tyrants. They’re not pondering that they’re something however profitable this struggle,” he stated.

As for having the ability to assist, Runge stays grateful: “I’ve to pinch myself to ensure I’m not dreaming.”


Russia first invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, in what many consultants believed can be a swift victory. The Ukrainian Armed Forces have efficiently defended their capital metropolis of Kyiv, they’ve made progress in pushing Russian invaders again to their jap border.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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