Relief operation for Ukraine organized by RWTH and Uniklinik gets into gear quickly

Trucks take medicines, medical equipment, and dressing materials to the war zone

Photo: Heiko Damme

It was one of these snapshots that those present would never forget. No sooner than the aid convoy had delivered the supplies from Aachen to the Ukrainian doctors than news came through that the Russians had attacked the military base at Yavoriv, near L’viv. Just as they were setting out on the return journey, Professor Andrij Pich and those accompanying him were informed that the dressing materials and medication they had provided, such as morphine and antibiotics, could also be used for the wounded from this Russian attack.

Helpers join Professor Pich in packing trucks for the long journey to Ukraine.
Photo: Heiko Damme

Ukrainian-born Pich, a professor at the RWTH Institute of Technical and Macromolecular Chemistry and at DWI Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials, is the initiator of the ‘RWTH and Uniklinik RWTH Aachen Help Ukraine’ relief operation. He has family and friends there, many of whom work in the medical sector and therefore know what is needed. The pharmacy of Uniklinik RWTH Aachen obtains the items most urgently needed in the Ukrainian clinics thanks to the donations for which appeals have been made for many weeks. As of April 22, 2022, more than 710,000 euros had been received as a result of the intitiative, including many private donations but also the proceeds of fundraising activities by schools and church groups, or through benefit concerts and many other activities.

‘This is a strong signal of solidarity with the people in Ukraine. We are delighted with this broad range of support, and our thanks go to all who have donated,’ stresses Professor Ulrich Rüdiger, Rector of RWTH. ‘This humanitarian catastrophe has particularly touched many people in our organization. We are grateful to all involved for coordinating the aid so quickly and so purposefully – a perfect example of successful teamwork,’ says Professor Thomas H. Ittel, Medical Director, Uniklinik RWTH Aachen.

‘This is a strong signal of solidarity with the people in Ukraine. We are very pleased with the amazing support we have received, and we want to say thank you to all who have donated.’

RWTH condemned the Russian attack on Ukraine in a statement in early March. The Russian attack on Ukraine fills RWTH and its members with horror, concern, and compassion. RWTH condemns all violence and violations of international law. ‘We are committed to helping students and researchers in the Ukrainian war zone and those who are fleeing to the greatest extent possible, explains the University’s rectorate, and continues: ‘RWTH is a place of diversity, togetherness, and solidarity. We gladly offer advice and assistance to all RWTH members personally affected by war and crises, such as the people in the Ukraine.’

Gratefully received the first deliveries in Lviv.
Photo: Ulyana Chernyaha-Royko

Reports that get in close

The war was only a few days old when the relief operation was begun. Pich, 46, spent half of his life in Ukraine. ‘When I see what is happening to my people at the moment, I am devastated,’ he says. He quickly succeeded in recruiting comrades-in-arms at RWTH and Uniklinik and an account was opened for donations. The newspapers reported the initiative and broadcaster WDR invited the professor for a studio interview. When Pich recounted what he saw during his visit with the aid convoy and retold the stories he had heard from his Ukrainian friends and relatives, many of the listeners gulped more than once. These were reports that did not avoid the facts.

Now, 40-ton trucks carrying dressing material, medical equipment, and medicines set out from Aachen every week for the Polish-Ukrainian border. When RWTH professor Andrij Pich went with the first large aid convoy, the Ukrainian doctors told him that owing to lack of equipment, they were forced during operations to press wounds together with their bare hands. ‘It was very moving to see the doctors’ joy as they accepted the supplies,’ recounts Pich.

‘With each passing day, the number of wounded increases, and so does the need for supplies such as vascular stents. The campaign carried out by RWTH and Uniklinik provides straightforward and concrete help here.’

‘We are very grateful to everyone who supports us in this way. It clearly shows us how much the fate of the Ukrainians who have to live in this terrible war also touches and worries the people here,’ says Pich. We are glad that we are able to obtain the exact drugs and medical devices that the hospitals in L’viv need so that they can be used there immediately after delivery,’ explains Dr. Albrecht Eisert, Chief Pharmacist at Uniklinik RWTH Aachen.

Meanwhile it has been possible to establish a stable logistics chain to the Polish-Ukrainian border. The goods are normally transferred there to smaller vehicles to protect them from the attacks that are often made on larger convoys. Provisional hospitals are also being built on the Polish side to care for the wounded and for sick refugees. Among other equipment, 22 special ventilators are stationed there, which can then be taken to L’viv quickly, for example, if there is a specific need. The risk that a complete delivery of valuable equipment of this kind could be destroyed in an attack during transportation is too great, which is why it is being taken to the hospitals little by little.

Continuing financial support

The Russian war of aggression continues with unabated ferocity and this is also exacerbating the problems of medical care in Ukraine. ‘With each passing day, the number of wounded increases, and so does the need for supplies such as vascular stents. The campaign carried out by RWTH and Uniklinik provides straightforward and concrete help here,’ emphasizes Pich. Nevertheless, the need is growing with every further day of war and the growing numbers of war victims. In addition, to provide medical care for the war wounded, special facilities are often necessary. This campaign therefore still urgently needs financial support.

– Thorsten Karbach

Account for donations

Commerzbank Aachen
Account holder: RWTH Aachen
IBAN: DE52 3904 0013 0122 6059 00
In the Reference (‘Verwendungszweck’) field, please state ‘Spende Ukraine’.

Donations can also be made in cash (anonymously if desired) at the RWTH Shop in the main building, Templergraben 55. The donations will be forwarded from there to the RWTH donations account.

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