‘We lost everything’ – Ukrainian mother arrives with son (5) who has leukaemia

A Ukrainian mother has spoken of her relief after arriving in Ireland with her five-year-old son who has leukaemia and needs a bone marrow transplant.

Yana Shapoval, her husband Serghyi, and their son Leonid are staying with relatives in Ballydehob, west Cork.

The family arrived in to Dublin on Monday evening with one suitcase having left their possessions behind. They made the arduous journey from Ukraine through Poland and Switzerland to reach Ireland.

Leonid had been due to undergo a bone marrow transplant in Kyiv next week. However, his surgery was cancelled due to the conflict. The hospital where the surgery was due to take place has since been bombed.

Independent TD Michael Collins is attempting to organise medical appointments for Leonid. The family are also in the process of translating medical records from Ukrainian to English. It is hoped the boy will be able to undergo treatment for his cancer at Cork University Hospital.

Yana became emotional as she discussed their plight on the Opinion Line, on Cork’s 96FM.

“He (Leonid) is OK — he is very tired. He is waiting on a bone marrow transplant. We have had so many stresses over the last five days — it is terrible. We lost everything we had. We will see doctor (GP) today for Leonid.”

Ms Shapoval added that she didn’t know if their home in the Ukraine was still standing.

Meanwhile, Yana’s aunt, Victoria Waldon, who lives in west Cork with her husband, David, said that the family had experienced considerable trauma over the last few days.

Victoria said the Shapoval family were caught up in a 20km traffic jam to get across the Polish border.

“He (Leonid) has been treated (in Ukraine) for leukaemia for the past eight and a half months. The doctors gave all the medical documents so he could be treated here. They had everything in one little suitcase — that was it. Basically they have lost everything. The most important thing they took with them was little Leonid’s medication — that was the most important thing for them.

“It was really hard for them — at the (Polish border) there was a queue 20km long.” Victoria stressed that once police officers were informed of Leonid’s cancer he was given priority for crossing the border in to Poland.

“In fairness to the Polish people they were very supportive — they gave food, clothes and water to them.”

Having stayed with friends in another Polish city, the family had a five hour journey by car to Warsaw to then fly to Zurich and onwards to Dublin.

Deputy Collins said that the situation facing the family was “shocking beyond words.”

“The Irish authorities and Polish authorities did everything they could but they still had to wait five and half hours just to get across the border.”

“But we finally got them to Dublin Airport and it was very, very emotional.”

“I am very hopeful that Leonid will get the treatment that he needs now here in Ireland.”

A Go Fundme page has been set up to assist Leonid with his treatment. Donations can be made at https://gofund.me/cb157eae

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