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The Butterfly Effect in War: Lives Saved

  • February 10, 2023
  • Access to Medicines
  • Ukraine
  • Doctors in an Eastern Ukraine hospital show iQ probes donated by Americares. . (Photo/Americares)

In medicine, a quick diagnosis can save a life. Ultrasound imaging is a critical diagnostic tool for doctors and first responders, especially in Ukraine, where deadly bombs cause injuries far too often.  

“Over the past month, we have transported children several times from a city that is under artillery and rocket fire every day,” says Aleksij Obolonskij, a pediatric anesthesiologist who works in the pediatric intensive care unit of a regional medical center for family health in south central Ukraine.

“I remember one boy, 4 years old, who suffered from an abdominal injury and had signs of shock. With the help of a Butterfly iQ ultrasound, we were able to diagnose internal bleeding in time, and the child, who had a ruptured liver capsule, was urgently taken to the operating room. The child’s life was saved.”

Dr. Obolonskij

Two doctors, one in green jacket over pink scrubs and one in white lab coat, both masked holding iQ probes in their cases.
Doctors in an Eastern Ukraine hospital show iQ probes donated by Americares. (Photo/Americares)

With its Polish partner the Institute of Emergency Medicine, Americares provided handheld Butterfly iQ ultrasound probes to 15 hospitals in Ukraine, including the regional hospital where Obolonskij works. The ultrasound devices are small and mobile so clinicians can make diagnoses nearly anywhere – even in an ambulance – which is extremely useful when communities are under attack.

“This equipment came to the rescue in a timely manner,“ says Obolonskij. “Before we received the Butterfly iQ ultrasound, we only performed ultrasound examinations in the regional hospital’s intensive care unit. Now we have the opportunity to conduct examinations routinely in the reception department and in all cities of the region from which we transport a child.”

The regional medical center specializes in children’s health and transports 25 to 30 newborns to its intensive care perinatal center each month. Patients come from across three regions, where hostilities are ongoing. During emergencies, including bombing and rocket attacks, the hospital uses the Butterfly ultrasound to diagnose as many as 100 patients a day. “We use the Butterfly ultrasounds routinely every single day,” says Obolonsky. With 15 Butterfly ultrasounds in use across the region, as many as 1,500 patients a day benefit from this donation.

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