At a small orthopedic clinic in Kiev, Daviti Suleimanishvili describes to doctors the various prostheses that can replace his left leg, torn during the battle for Mariupol.
Born in Georgia but with Ukrainian citizenship, Suleimanishvili – whose de-name is “Scorpion” – is one of the countless people who have lost an arm or a leg in the war and are now eagerly awaiting replacement.
A member of the Azov Regiment, he was stationed in the town of Mariupol, which last week was the scene of relentless beatings by Russian forces for three months before the last troops of the Azovstal Steelwork finally surrendered.
On March 20, he was seriously injured when a Russian tank fired at him about 900 meters away.
“The blast hit me four meters and then a wall fell on me,” he told AFP, adding that he too had been stabbed.
“When I tried to get up, I couldn’t feel my leg. My hand was injured and one of my fingers was gone.”
His comrades took him to a field hospital in the center of the wide steelwork, his leg amputated just below the knee.
He was then airlifted to a hospital in Dnipropetrovsk, central Ukraine.
Two months later he is walking around with a crutch and hopes to soon have an artificial leg funded by the Ukrainian government.
“If possible, I would like to continue working in the army and continue the war,” he explained.
“One foot is nothing because we are in the 21st century and you can make good artificial limbs and continue to survive and serve,” he said.
“I know a lot of the boys in the war now have artificial devices and are in the front row.”
On Wednesday afternoon, he first consulted with doctors who would fit him into a new organ.
Inside a Rundown building clinic in Kiev, a dozen specialists are making prostheses inside a plaster-covered workshop, while in the consultation room, doctors are considering what could be the right model for each of their patients.
But the case of Sulemanishvili is not so straightforward.
Suggests a vacuum-attached prosthesis where a pump expels air between the remaining limbs and sockets, creating a vacuum; Another pushes for a different kind of attachment which he says would be better for wartime conditions, which is “stable, flexible and easy to clean”.
“There were almost no military men two weeks ago, but now they are coming,” explained Alexander Stetsenko, the clinic’s chief doctor.
“They weren’t ready before because they needed to be treated for injuries to other parts of their body.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky said in mid-April that 10,000 soldiers had been wounded and that the United Nations had given figures of more than 4,600 wounded civilians.
Amplitude magazine, an expert American publication targeting amputation, said Ukraine would need significant resources.
“To help hundreds or thousands of Ukrainian limbs that need treatment, aid volunteers have to work from concentrated locations that are well stocked,” it said.
However, “there are a limited number of such clinics in Ukraine and the supply chains that serve them are the best.”
‘Up and running within weeks’
Stetsenko said Ukraine has about 30 facilities that make artificial devices, with its own clinic typically producing around 300 each year.
The clinic will not be able to increase production because each artificiality is “customized” to suit each patient’s injury and needs.
In the case of Sulemanishvili, who is a gunman, doctors will add 15 kilograms to the weight of his new leg so that it can support his use of heavy weapons.
“I want prosthetics so I can do most of the techniques,” he insisted.
Within a week, she will be back for a temporary prosthesis so she can start learning to walk.
“In two or three weeks, he will be running,” another doctor, Valerie Nebseni, told AFP.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)