A seven-year-old Ukrainian twin boy suffering from a rare degenerative disease has been evacuated from Ukraine and rushed to Israel’s largest hospital in an attempt to save his eyesight.
Mykhailo Shpak, along with his twin brother Timofey and their mother Anna, was brought to Israel for treatment at the Sheba Medical Center after a concerted effort to get them out of the war-torn country by Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the Corridor – Israel Aid for Ukraine program.
“The phone call to Sheba Medical Center came out of nowhere, and the tone reflected a sense of urgency,” the hospital said Tuesday.
Corridor – Israel Aid for Ukraine, created by a group of Israeli entrepreneurs to coordinate complex medical evacuations of refugees, contacted the hospital with a plea for medical assistance for the child. His mother Anna sought help from the aid group after their home town, a village near Kyiv, was invaded by Russian forces. She managed to flee to the city of Mukachevo with the two young boys, while their father Dmitry Shpak was called up for military duty.
Both twins were born prematurely, and Mykhailo has suffered from an aggressive form of retinopathy, which can cause severe damage to the retinas and lead to irreversible vision impairment. The Corridor aid effort helped secure an initial assessment for Mykhailo with a doctor in Israel, who recommended surgery.
With less than a day to reach an aid flight planned to leave Kishinev, Moldova for Israel, Sheba gave the green light for free treatment, while Israeli authorities confirmed that Anna, Mykhailo and Timofey could travel to the country on a humanitarian basis. Anna and her boys immediately set out to Kishinev, closely supported by people on the ground.
Since their arrival in Israel, Mykhailo has started his evaluation by medical experts at Sheba’s Goldschleger Eye Institute.
“We feel very safe here and everyone knows that the best doctors and the best sweets are in Israel. I am very thankful to the eye doctors who are trying to save Mykhailo’s vision,” said Anna.
Published April 12, The Algemeiner