Special Project 18:55 21 Apr 2022

"Everyone did what they could, what they were capable of": how a doctor from Bucha helped to deliver a baby and helped the wounded in the siege

This war has clearly shown not only to the world but also to the Ukrainians themselves that we are a nation of heroes. There are legendary people in literally every city, town, or village. We are so united that no one has any questions or excuses if someone needs help. People understand each other in half a word, and each of us will now remember the date of February 24. Because from that day our history began a new countdown.

While our defenders are defending Ukraine on the battlefield, everyone in the rear is doing everything possible to ensure that Ukraine's victory comes as soon as possible. And Rubryka continues to collect stories about people who have become the faces of our defense and are helping to bring the first day of peace.


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The world learned about the town of Bucha from scary videos and photos, and she has lived there for 10 years. Doctor Iryna Yazova worked at the Irpin Central City Hospital as the head of the admission department. And for the last two years, she has also been a physician in the coronavirus department.

Until March 9, the woman was in Bucha with her family: rescuing the wounded, helping to deliver babies, helping sick neighbors. It was only after the russian occupier entered their apartment that she and her husband took the children and evacuated from the city.

"These helicopters flew like flies, there were a lot of them"

"On February 24, after the shift, I slept. I, like all Ukrainians, was awakened by shots. A neighbor came to us with the words: 'Get up! The war has begun!' I said, 'As it began, so it will end.' I turned around and went back to sleep."

This is how Iryna remembers the first moments of a full-scale invasion. Later that day, she went on a call near the airfield in Hostomel.


"I witnessed the first explosions. These helicopters flew like flies, there were a lot of them. At that time I didn't realize that this was a large-scale invasion. No one comprehended the idea that everything would be this way and affect civilians and children.

My husband and I were driving home from Hostomel among these 'flying flies,' and they seemed to fly as if up to the windshield. There was no fear. There was no awareness yet. We rode in a civilian car and did not pose a threat to anyone. We didn't even think that they would aim at us.

And only when we saw civilian cars shot on the road on the Internet, there was horror and understanding that it could happen to us. But somehow God had mercy."

On February 25, Iryna was on her shift in the hospital, going on calls. And already on the 26th, all passages were closed. She stayed at home. It turned out that Iryna was the only doctor in their building at that time.

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"People were treated for various problems: headaches, hypertensive crisis, nausea, panic attacks," the woman said. Iryna helped people to cope with such problems.

But soon they had to face the immediate consequences of the war.

"If we had focused on fear, we wouldn't have done what we did"

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"The first such patient was a girl aged one and a half years. Her family is not from Bucha. They were traveling from another city and they were shot at the crossing. Their car was marked with the "Children" label. The car's headlights were melted. I don't know what kind of weapon that was.

The mother's shin was shot; she was treated earlier. And I treated the baby's wound. We took off the elastic bandage they had put on, it was squeezing the baby's leg, and put on the usual bandage.

In just 10 minutes we found an antibiotic for the mother. Nobody refused to help, people gave everything they had. Everyone worked very well together. People are heroes of that time. Everyone did what they could, what they were capable of.

People leaving the city left the keys to their apartments so that we could pick up food from them; we distributed it to those who couldn't move. All the necessary medicines were also found very quickly.

My husband was very worried about me, he didn't let me go; he said every day that we should leave and think about our safety. But no one thought about themselves. Somehow I was not afraid. Maybe it was some kind of mental protection. It did not allow emotions to go to the surface and react to the horror that was happening around. You know what you need to do, and you go do it because you have to.

Now I look at the results of all this, I see people who walked the same paths as we did, but didn't survive. An acquaintance of ours was shot in the head by a bullet on the street where my husband and I had been passing. It could be us. I was not aware of all this then.

And that's good because if we had focused on fear, we wouldn't have done what we did."

"We also had Volodia. A man who was shot in both legs."

"We also had Volodia. A man who was shot in both legs. He was walking from a nearby apartment building to ours. A shot was fired and he fell. Volodia laid there for several hours until our boys found him, took him, and brought him to my building.

He was lucky that he lived in my building section because, since March 3, I could no longer walk from section to section; it was very dangerous. Tanks were nearby, and russians were everywhere.

For example, I couldn't bandage a woman who lived just five buildings away; the road to her was already blocked.

The man was lying in my building. Every day I bandaged him and waited for the opportunity to evacuate him. We passed information about him to the territorial defense. It's just that no one was able to get to us for a long time. Volodia was arranged with a place, wrapped up, warmed, and we found antibiotics for him. He laid like that for six days, and then he was evacuated and had surgery."

"Then I had the thought that at some point I would have to help to deliver a baby"

In the first days of the bombing, Iryna met her acquaintance who said that there were pregnant women in their building. "Then I had the thought that at some point I would have to help to deliver a baby."

On the 12th day of the war, a woman from the closest building entrance started having contractions. For the first time in her life, Iryna helped to deliver a baby.

"They wrote me an SMS: 'There's someone giving birth in your building.'"

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"Well, I went there. Then there was no electricity, no water supply, no heating. And before Ania's waters broke, the gas supply was gone. We had bottled water, but we couldn't heat it. But we didn't need it — the girl was born almost clean — we literally used two or three napkins, wrapped her and that was it.

I closed the windows with curtains, the room was dark. We had candles for lighting. One of the midwives on our team was a designer; she brought a lot of different candles. Such a romantic setting. That's how we delivered the baby.

At that moment I had no war in my soul, in my heart, or around me. We lived in the moment and focused on the child and the mother. Maybe that's why it turned out so well.

The girl and her mother were evacuated the next day. They are already in the Zakarpattia region. All is well with them."

"All the way I shouted that I was not going anywhere, I had to go back"

The day after the birth, Iryna and her family evacuated. On the morning of the 9th, a russian soldier entered their yard. Then it became clear that the place is dangerous. And although Iryna did not want to, her husband insisted on leaving.

"I didn't even have time to change my clothes after delivering the baby. It was dark there and then, when I arrived in Kyiv, I saw that I was covered in blood. But then I hadn't seen it.

All the way I shouted that I was not going anywhere, I had to go back. But still, we left. The russians did not let us join the convoy of buses, and we turned around and drove down the 'road of death.' The road where a dead man lies under every tree. And in every yard, there is a russian tank.

We were not bothered, we drove very slowly, and somewhere in the middle of the road we were stopped and turned to the glass factory. There was their lair. We stood there for four hours. The russians checked cars, confiscated cameras, and asked to delete all photos and records of the war.

And I had cigarettes in my pocket, I bought them for Volodia. And when a russian soldier looked in the car and asked for a phone, I took out a cigarette instead and said: 'You are going there, shooting all day; maybe you'd like a cigarette?'

And he said, 'Thanks a lot. You can tell others that you passed the check.'

After that, we were not stopped anymore. This is how a pack of cigarettes saved me from the whole inspection of the car.


God really had mercy on me by saving me from everything that happened to other people. The realization of this is coming only now. I saw this street on the Internet too. But when you look on the Internet, it's one thing, and when you look out the car window, it's a completely different feeling and experience."

After Iryna and her family left Bucha, the question arose as to where to go next. And now she is with children in Poland.

The woman doesn't consider herself a hero. She says she did what she had to do and didn't think about popularity or heroism at all.

The article was prepared within a grant competition from the NGO Internews-Ukraine with the financial support of Sweden and Internews (Audience understanding and digital support project). The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author..

Матеріал підготовлено в рамках реалізації грантового конкурсу від ГО


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