A group of nine physicians and nurses from Naperville left for the Poland-Ukraine border Wednesday night, accompanied by 80 suitcases packed with life-saving medical supplies.
"Chest tubes, ventilators, central lines, even gas masks just inside," said Dr. Zaher Sahloul, a critical care specialist and president of MedGlobal. "Just in case, if the Russians have used chemical weapons."
The group has gathered about $500,000 worth of supplies, and will help provide medical care themselves. Many are experienced in treating traumatic injuries, which they expect to find in what has become a war zone.
"We'll go immediately in," said Dr. John Kahler, MedGlobal. "We have five hospitals we're going to visit and we're going to visit the Ministry of Health."
President of the Chicago-based humanitarian non-governmental organization, Sahloul organized the effort to bring Chicagoland help to the Polish-Ukrainian border. He has been working closely with his colleagues in Ukraine.
"They were sending us these lists of necessary medical equipment and surgery equipment and we collected all of that and we're taking all of that with us today and taking it from here to Warsaw and from Warsaw to Ukraine," said Sahloul.
Sahloul said he and his team have been working to save lives in service of our common bond of humanity.
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"Each one piece of luggage and instrument will save lives and this is our main goal," said Sahloul. "But also our other goal is to let the Ukrainians know we are standing in solidarity with them."
"Ukranian organizations, North American organizations reached out to us and asked for our expertise and we said of course we're happy to do this," said Dr. Riley Jones, MedGlobal.
"The whole European community in Chicago is helping. It's not just Ukrainians. It's not just Polish people. It's all of Europe helping each other. We stand as one now," said Jessica Szostak, a nurse and MedGlobal volunteer.
Organizers said this effort started as just one or two people who were planning to go to Ukraine to help, but in five days, a miracle happened. It has ballooned to nine doctors and nurses and $500,000 worth of medical supplies all headed to the Ukrainian border with Poland Wednesday night.
"We just want to provide them all the medical help that they can because it's our duty to reach out and it's our duty to help being in the medical community," said Tonya Sompalli, a Ukrainian-American and MedGlobal volunteer.
Sompalli and Bogdana Kashperovetska are Ukrainian-American volunteers doing what they can for their homeland from afar.
"We do it for people. And if my effort can save one life, that's all I need to know." said Kashperovetska, who is also a MedGlobal volunteer.
People can donate to the cause at MedGlobal.org.
A group on the North Side is also collecting medical and other supplies for Ukrainians. Volunteers with the Legion of Young Polish Women collected medicine, diapers, non-perishable food items, and other essentials, which are being dropped off at St. Hyacinth church.
"Seeing what's going on is traumatic for a lot of us. We just wanted to do something," said Natalia Ladzinksa, Legion of Young Polish Women.
They will hold another donation drop off day on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.