Local doctor shares experience helping in Ukraine

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Two weeks ago, a team of eight people from across the country, including a local doctor in Michigan, ran the ground, traveling more than 5,000 miles to join the global effort to help those in need. help in Ukraine. Now, after 36 hours of travel, the group has returned to America.

ABC57 first introduced you to Dr. Sherrell O’Donnell two weeks ago. She made the trip from Saint Joseph, Michigan to Ukraine with other medical professionals from several different states. Their purpose is to help the nurses and doctors on the front lines of the war.

“In many ways, this reminds me of when COVID first broke out. And some of the people who need the most help are the frontline people who are serving the people… the doctors and nurses are overwhelmed and that’s really where we’ve focused a lot on this trip which is helping the doctors. Doctors understand that they are not alone,” says Dr. Sherry O’Donnell.

They come up with skills of their own, and are tasked with rescuing innocent civilians caught in the fire. Their work has paved the way for others to soon join the crisis management efforts in Eastern Europe.

“Our patient visit time was less than in subsequent groups but we saw a good number of patients. So we’ve seen some in hospitals, some in college dorms where college students have had to flee this area, and now you have a whole bunch of empty rooms, so the refugees was there,” said Dr. O’Donnell.

Stories of Ukrainians heartbroken by the loss of loved ones and forced to flee their homes, still linger.

“One of the things that completely broke my heart was a woman we met and talked to. Her husband is killed, she is injured and she feels the best route for the safety of her children… is to sell her children. She sold a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old,” said Dr. O’Donnell.

Bomb sirens sounded continuously throughout their stay. Dr. O’Donnell, compare the sound to what we hear when there’s a tornado warning. But, that doesn’t stop the team from doing what they’re there to do.

“For us to cover up means leaving the building or the area we were in and going back to the host house and that would get us out into the street, that’s forbidden. So when the second whistle hits, we’ll regroup as a team, pray and continue to see the patients,” said Dr. O’Donnell.

Despite all the potential dangers, O’Donnell said she never felt unsafe being there.

“I really trust the missionaries we work with and the church we work with and maybe that’s why I’ve never felt scared. I don’t know if it’s a mix of faith or a mixture of nativity, but I’ve never taken the danger seriously,” said Dr. O’Donnell.

Before departing for Ukraine, O’Donnell said she felt both sad and empowered.

“I feel more (empowered) like never before. And when I hear the resilience of the Ukrainian people, it amazes me even more,” said Dr. O’Donnell.

Along with the opportunity to put his expertise first, being able to build relationships with people thousands of miles away is a forever keepsake O’Donnell holds in his heart.

“Meeting people and now having relationships with people and understanding that I want to stand with you in this is also empowering,” says Dr. O’Donnell. “I don’t have time to watch the news but I can tell you that wars are real and people’s lives are being ruined and civilians are being hurt unnecessarily. I think we need to continue to keep Ukraine in our prayers and thoughts, then maybe reach out further to a country ravaged by a power of hunger. ”

A second group will depart from the states for Ukraine on Sunday, April 17 to continue efforts to support those in need.

Sherrell O’Donnell is running for Congress for Michigan’s 5th district.

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