Stranded by war: Ukrainian nurses care for 21 surrogate babies in makeshift clinic on the outskirts of Kyiv

Ukrainian nurse Oksana Martynenko and her colleagues have 21 babies to be cared for in a makeshift clinic in a residential basement on the outskirts of Kyiv – all as surrogate mothers whose parents cannot come to receive them. because of war.

While she has her own family to worry about. Her children live in the area around Sumy, a city about 320 kilometers east of the capital that has been bombarded by Russian troops.

It was too dangerous for Martynenko to reach them, so they were living with their grandmother.

“We haven’t been able to go home since February 24,” she told Reuters as she changed one of the baby’s diapers.

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“I come from the Sumy region, but I can’t go there. I have children at home… They (Russians) started shelling our town yesterday. We wait for daily news about the what’s going on there… But we can’t leave these kids.”

Martynenko called the family when possible to see if they were safe and if they could sleep at night. Ukrainians across the country are rushing between homes and air raid shelters as advancing Russian forces attack cities and towns.

“It’s not their fault when it happens,” she said of the children in her care. “It’s not their fault that the parents can’t come and take them away. So we’re staying here, we’re coping and helping them as much as we can.”

In the naked setting of the clinic, a nurse pushes a stroller in one hand and a newborn baby in the other as she and her colleagues comfort the babies. Newborns lie in rows of small plastic beds and bottles are stacked for sterilization.

Staff say two couples – one from Germany and one from Argentina – have come to Kyiv to unite with their surrogates, but it is unclear when they will be able to get them out of the country.


Ukraine is an international hub for surrogacy, attracting thousands of babies each year in normal times, many of them by some estimates abroad.

This activity has raised concerns among rights groups and some former mothers-to-be about the physical and psychological costs of this process and the risk of exploitation of women and their babies in the community. poorer countries.

The babies in the Kyiv clinic were born in various maternity wards in the capital, and were brought to a place to ensure their safety.

Fierce fighting has broken out around Sumy in northeastern Ukraine since Moscow launched what it called “special operation” on February 24 to demilitarize and “demilitarize”. neighboring countries, a claim that Ukraine rejects as a pretext for an unjustified invasion.

Thousands of people were killed, millions fled the country, towns and cities were devastated by shelling, air raids and fighting. Russia denies targeting civilians.

Kyiv has been spared the worst of the fighting so far, but Russian troops are closing down the city and shelling is increasing. At least five people were killed in shelling and air strikes on the city on Tuesday.

Exhausted Antonina Yefymovych, also a nurse, said staff were stuck and working around the clock to take care of the children.

Yefymovych says: “We don’t have time to rest… We try to have naps, to swap.

With increased bombardment, the explosions grew larger and larger. “It was terrifying indeed.”

(Additional reporting by Margaryta Chornokondratenko in Lviv; Writing by Mike Collett-White; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien) Stranded by war: Ukrainian nurses care for 21 surrogate babies in makeshift clinic on the outskirts of Kyiv

Fry Electronics Team

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