KYIV, Ukraine – Surgeons had made the long incision in the middle of the child’s chest, cut through the sternum to spread out the rib cage and reach the heart when the lights went out at the Kyiv Heart Institute.
On Wednesday evening, generators kicked in to keep life support equipment running as nurses and surgical assistants held flashlights above the operating table, guiding surgeons as they cut and cut, working to save a life in the most difficult conditions.
“The electricity went completely out in the operating room,” said Borys Todurov, director of the institute, who posted a video of the procedure online to illustrate the difficulties faced by doctors.
“So far we’ve been on our own,” he said. “But every hour gets harder. There has been no water for several hours. We continue to do only emergency operations.
Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy grid are weighing ever more heavily on the country as the damage mounts. After each strike, repairs become more difficult, breakdowns may last longer, and the danger to the public increases.
The scene at Kyiv’s hospital echoes those at medical facilities across the country, a stark illustration of the cascading toll of Russian attacks on civilians far from the front lines.
Two kidney transplant operations were underway at the Cherkasy Regional Cancer Center in central Ukraine when the lights went out, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said on the app. Telegram messenger. The generators were turned on and the transplants were successful, he said.
“Ukrainian doctors are invincible! he said.
In the central city of Dnipro, an aeronautical and industrial hub of around one million people, the strikes caused a loss of electricity at the Mechnikov hospital, a first since the start of the war, doctors said.
“We’ve been preparing for this moment for two years,” said a doctor, who requested anonymity because the doctor was not authorized to speak to the media.
The hospital’s intensive care and operating rooms are running on generators, the doctor added, but living quarters are without electricity.
Christopher Stokes, the head of Doctors Without Borders in Ukraine, said strikes on infrastructure put “millions of civilians at risk”. They can fuel a vicious loop, in which people living without heat or clean water are more likely to need medical care, but that care itself is more difficult to provide.
“Power cuts and water disruptions will also affect people’s access to healthcare as hospitals and health centers struggle to function,” he said.
At the Kyiv hospital, surgeons put on headlamps and continued to work in the dark. The operation was a success, Mr. Todurov said.
“Thank you to all the staff for their well-coordinated and selfless work,” he said. “In this unusual situation, we have not lost a single patient.”
Marc Santora reported from Kyiv, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Dnipro, Ukraine. Natalia Yermak contributed to Dnipro reporting.