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Stories that you confided to us

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Svitlana Potina
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"The scars on my son's head don't let you forget about the war"

Her 10-year-old son Vlad came under fire in Avdiivka and received a shrapnel wound to the head. He was in a coma for nine days. He survived only by a miracle, but could not move an arm or leg. Two years of rehabilitation gradually restored the dysfunction of the motor apparatus. The Foundation provided great assistance in Vlad's treatment and rehabilitation.

The doctors said it was a miracle of miracles! It is incredible that he managed to recover at this rate after such an injury.

Our small family was formed on 19 October 2003. On 18 November 2005, it became complete – our son Vladik was born. My husband worked, and I raised my son. He attended kindergarten. Then he went to school, visited dancing, English, football, karate groups.

We are from a small town of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast. The city is very cosy, everything was there: playgrounds and children's clubs. There are many beautiful places outside the city where we could often go on vacation, a lake where we bathed on hot summer days. We did not live hard, but it lasted less than nine years.

"Our happy life was over"

The scars on my son's head don't let you forget about the war

Nothing foreshadowed trouble, but in the summer of 2014, war came to our city, which brought a lot of destruction and took a lot of human lives of innocent people.

Our happy life ended.Many times we were forced to hide in entrances and basements. We lived in constant fear, something flew away, something flew in.

At first, people did not understand what was flying and where it was coming from, but soon even children got used to it – there was nowhere to go.

"Our city survived thanks to only one enterprise"

Many people left, but many stayed, because there were no places to go, no funds. People have survived and are still surviving as best they can. After all, many worked in other cities: Donetsk, Yasynuvata, Makiivka. But when the war came, everything changed.

There is only one company left in Avdiivka that gives people jobs, which means wages, light, heating, and water – this is ACP [Avdiivka Coke Plant]. The plant was shelled many times, but thanks to the company's employees it has been restored. In such difficult conditions (constant explosions, lack of water, electricity, heating), especially at the beginning of 2015, we also survived.

The scars on my son's head don't let you forget about the war

The son received a shrapnel wound to the head

On 26 January 2015, a very terrible misfortune happened. Our son Vlad was seriously injured. He received a shrapnel wound to the head. It was very scary.

In those days, our city was especially heavily bombed. Our house was also repeatedly shelled. On that terrible day, Vlad was visiting his grandmother, his husband's mother. Her house is located in a quieter area, as we thought before that unfortunate day.

The scars on my son's head don't let you forget about the war

They stood near the entrance when a shell suddenly exploded nearby. Vlad was immediately taken to our local hospital, which was also constantly under fire. An x-ray showed that there was a shard left in his head.

The scars on my son's head don't let you forget about the war

He was within a hair's breadth of death

Our son was within a hair's breadth of death – he was already in a coma. The doctor urgently called the military, who took us to the nearby city of Dymytriv, because our hospital had no water, no light, no specialists, no necessary equipment for the operation.

Vlad undertook a surgery in Dymytriv by military doctors, whom we will thank all our lives. In fact, they saved the son's life.

Then we were sent on a reanimobile from Dymytriv to Dniropetrovsk, to the children's regional hospital for further treatment.

The scars on my son's head don't let you forget about the war

We lived nine days as in a fog

Vladik was in a coma for nine days. No doctor has made any predictions, because the injury is very severe (more than 60% of the brain is damaged).

All these days my husband and I lived as in a fog. We did not have a home, no friends in a strange city, no money, and Vlad needed expensive treatment every minute (antibiotics, food, blood, and much more).  We were desperate.

The scars on my son's head don't let you forget about the war

But, thank God, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation contacted us. Thanks to him and his employees, Vlad did not need anything, everything necessary was delivered in the shortest possible time.

Nine days later, Vlad came out of his coma and was transferred from the intensive care unit to the Neurosurgical Department. His condition was still severe, he did not move, did not speak, the right handle and leg did not work at all. We were desperate. We did not know what to do. The doctors said we should wait. Maybe something will change, and maybe not.

It was a real miracle

After a short time, Vlad came to his senses. He began to smile, move, react to everything around him. We started learning everything from the beginning: talking, reading, counting, walking, sitting...

The scars on my son's head don't let you forget about the war

The doctors said it was a miracle of miracles! It is incredible that he managed to recover at this rate after such an injury.

Two months later, we were released from the hospital and moved to a rented apartment. We could not go home – the war continued.

Assistance from the Foundation

All this time, the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation has been helping us and continues to help us now. We really appreciate this.

In March 2016, we were invited to Kyiv, where we visited the zoo, the Experimentarium Museum, visited the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and many other holy places. Vlad received a present — a soccer ball and a Shakhtar team uniform, which he was indescribably delighted with. Vlad and all of us got lots of positive emotions, impressions that will be remembered for a long time or forever.

In June 2016, the Foundation gave us another gift – sent us to rehabilitation, to the coast of the sea of Azov, to Arctic Sanatorium in Berdianske.

It was like we were in a fairy tale

My son and I got in a fairy tale. Excellent conditions, sea view from the window, the nature is gorgeous, the procedures necessary for Vlad's rehabilitation. My family and I often went to sea in peacetime, but never with such comfort. 21 days of rest flew by like one. We didn't waste a second or a minute. Excursions, walks, entertainment, rides. Everything was just perfect!

The scars on my son's head don't let you forget about the war

Vlad is a sociable boy, and, thank God, his speech is recovering normally after the injury. He could not speak after the injury. Furthermore, he did not know the words, did not know what they meant (in scientific terms, he had aphasia – he could understand everything but could not say it). It was scary right away, but we've been working hard and everything is getting better.

"Mom, I need to swim a lot to develop my arm and leg"

He made a lot of friends in the sanatorium, with whom he spent a lot of free time from the procedures. Most of all, he liked swimming in the sea. He could sit for hours, splashing in the water. I was worried though that he might get sick. And he said, "Mother, I need to swim a lot, because water helps my arm and leg get good physical practice." Well, what was there to say in response? After all, he was right!

And all this, of course, thanks to the Foundation. We don't know when we could have had such a rest ourselves. After all, we have one father working in our family. We need to survive somehow. The apartment rental is very expensive, as well as food. I am unemployed – I take care of Vlad (he can't get dressed or put on shoes with one hand).

In the winter of 2016, the Foundation bought us expensive sports equipment for Vlad: an orbitrek, a wall bars, a health disk, a hoop, a ball, and dumbbells. They help rehabilitate faster.

The right hand is already functional– the muscles have become stronger, he can pick up large objects: a book, a chair, and put things together.

In 2017 we received another call from the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. They offered to go to a sanatorium. Vlad chose Zaporizhzhia, because there is the world-famous island of Khortytsia.

In June 2017 we went to Velykyi Kuh Sanatorium in Zaporizhzhia. There Vlad immediately got a little upset: it was impossible to swim in the river near the sanatorium, there were almost no children. "There are only old people ther," he said. But then he got used to it. There is a beautiful nature, pine forest, fresh air, a lot of dogs (he loves animals very much). Of the many procedures assigned to him, his favourite were swimming (water acrobatics) and massage.

Before leaving, my son was able to take the fork with his right hand!

 When we were leaving,  during the last meal, he took a fork in his right hand and began to eat with his right hand! I can't describe what I felt that moment. After all, this is a huge progress!

We thought that the hand would never fully recover, but it turns out that everything is possible, you just need to continue to develop and develop.

The scars on my son's head don't let you forget about the war

On weekends, we went to the city on excursions, sailed on a boat around Khortytsia, went to parks, went out to nature, and often met with Vlad's godmother's family. They are also from Avdiivka, but now live in Zaporizhzhia.

Therefore, we were very satisfied.

Life goes on

Now our family lives though far from home, but what can you do, life goes on. Let's hope that the war will end one day, and we will return to our native city, to our native home.

In the meantime, Vlad successfully goes to school in Dnipropetrovsk, in the sixth grade. This is also our great progress. In 2015, a year after that, he made up for his third grade and learned according to the curriculum for the fourth grade. In 2016, he finished the fifth grade well, and now he is in the sixth grade. He is currently engaged in individual training, as it is difficult to focus and write quickly until it turns out, because he re-learned to write with his left hand, and previously was right-handed.

Well, we must hope for the best, try and not be discouraged.

The scars on Vlad's head remind us of the war

The scars on my son's head don't let you forget about the war

Now only the scars on Vlad's head remind of what happened (they inserted titanium plates to cover the defects of the skull – fragments shattered the bones of the skull on the right above the forehead and on the left at the back of the head) and a slight limp of the right leg and arm. By the way, the plates were also purchased by the Foundation.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to Rinat Leonidovich and the staff of the Foundation for the assistance provided to our family. After all, he helps and saves the lives of many children and old people of Donbass. We bow down before you.

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