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SickKids receives patients with cancer and their families from Ukraine
5 minute read

SickKids receives patients with cancer and their families from Ukraine


SickKids is one of many international organizations working to ensure paediatric patients with cancer from Ukraine are able to access medical care.

People walking off plane
Patients and families from Ukraine arriving in Toronto

On March 30, 2022, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) received another paediatric patient with cancer and their family from Ukraine. Over the coming days, the patient will undergo an initial assessment with SickKids clinical teams to put care plans into place. All six patients and their families are settling in and will continue to receive the excellent, compassionate care SickKids is known for.

SickKids is one of a number of international organizations working to ensure paediatric patients with Ukraine are able to access the care they need. Here in Canada, a number of other children's hospitals who have signalled interest in caring for children with cancer from Ukraine should the need arise.

“All children deserve access to specialized health care and we acknowledge that there is a moral responsibility to provide care to vulnerable children from abroad when we have capacity,” says Dr. Ronald Cohn, President and CEO at SickKids. “Our longstanding partnerships with Ukrainian children’s hospitals have enabled us to support these urgent children’s health care needs in Ukraine.”

The effort to bring patients with cancer from Ukraine to Canada has involved dozens of professionals at SickKids, including social workers, volunteers, nurses, doctors and senior executives who have been working diligently behind-the-scenes for weeks to prepare for their arrival. One of the members of this group, Dr. Sumit Gupta, Staff Oncologist at SickKids, accompanied three of these families on their journey from Poland to SickKids to help ensure they arrived safely.

“I feel fortunate to have been able to spend some time with the families before we departed for Toronto and during the journey,” adds Gupta. “I have to say, the resilience of kids who, having had their lives completely disrupted, can still laugh at silly jokes or enjoy beating adults, including myself, at card games, is really awe-inspiring, as is their caregivers’ determination to do whatever it takes to protect their children."

While overseas, Gupta saw first-hand the immense amount of work being coordinated by the clinical teams in western Ukraine and Poland to stabilize these patients, evacuate them and spearhead the efforts to ensure patients go to countries that are appropriate for their individual circumstances. Ukranian children in need of immediate treatment or stabilization have mainly been taken in by Polish hospitals who are juggling logistics, medical complexity and psychosocial needs.

This effort is the result of tremendous collaborations, and SickKids is thankful for the support of our federal and provincial governments and community partners, some of which include Aman Lara, Reticle, Bristol Gate Partners and Richard Hamm, the Canada-Ukraine Foundation, Meagan’s Hug, CAPREIT and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC).

Supporting patients and families from Ukraine

The community response in support of patients and families from Ukraine has been heartwarming and overwhelming. We are very appreciative of offers to donate toys, clothing, accommodations, funds and more. We have a Ukrainian Paediatric Assistance Fund that can accept financial donations. These funds will assist the patients and their families with non-medical expenses, like food and transportation, while receiving care at SickKids. At this time, due to the generosity of the community, we are not accepting any in-kind donations such as clothing, toys or household goods as those needs are currently being met.  
For additional ways to help, below is a list of other organizations to consider for donations. Please note that this list is being provided for information purposes only and donors should visit each organization’s website to learn more and determine which best meets their philanthropic interests.

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