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Special Forces officer, having lost his arm and legs at the frontline, returned to the active life and entered the university

December 23, 2015/ Information Website "Hrechka"
Special Forces officer, having lost his arm and legs at the frontline, returned to the active life and entered the university

When Vadym wears trousers, people, who don't know him, cannot even guess that he walks on two prostheses. He does not lean on the cane. His gait is smooth, without any lameness. In Odessa, before the non-state award ceremony "People's Hero of Ukraine", I asked Vadym, whether he would be able to climb the stairs to the stage or if I should better pass him to the backstage. The Special Forces officer shrugged and answered: "No problem. I'll deal with that." When Sergeant of the 3rd Kirovohrad Special Forces regiment Dovhoruk walked for the award, other heroes applauded him standing, including the leader of the Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Dzhemiliov. Vadym has such fortitude that it will be enough for 10 people. In his 24, he experienced too much. But he didn't break, vice versa, he steeled and became stronger and more hardened.

Last week, a new video of Sviatoslav Vakarchuk on the "Myt'" song was released. Its creation was directly connected with Vadym Dovhoruk.

– The story of the song means much for me, not less than the song itself, or, maybe, it means even more for me. I wrote the "Myt'" just in 15 minutes, –the musician told at his official site. – It was almost ready. Except for a small, but an important "detail" – the last line of the song. I felt that I missed something I wanted to say…

Sviatoslav finished his song after he visited warriors at the Kyiv Burn Center.

– Before one of the wards, the doctor warned me: the fellow, I would see now, had been wounded at war. It was a miracle that he had survived the inhuman conditions, – Vakarchuk continues.

– His hand was severed. He spent four days in the frost with such a severe injury. Alone. Because others were killed or frozen. Then, doctors had to amputate him both frostbitten feet ... I was worried before the acquaintance, but only till the moment I entered the ward and saw a confident, smiling man who inspired me with his optimism, future plans and some incredible energy. The spring lived in his soul! He shared it with the whole world! The same evening, I finished the last line of my song. 

Write on an empty envelope

The things you wanted to say.

And the moment, till the brave death

be yourself, just be yourself

And see as the day breaks

as the snow glitters around

don't hurry, it'll wait a while, this moment won't let you down

Just wait, and the moment will last

Just wait and the spring will come fast.

I met Vadym, when he was in the intensive care of Kyiv Burn Center. I have a photo in my phone, where Vadym still had legs. They were totally bandaged. Doctors tried to save them. But freeze burns appeared to be too serious. And when I came to visit the Special Forces officer in a couple of days, his legs below the knees have been amputated. But the warrior confidently said: "Believe me, I will walk".

It was the 3rd Special Forces regiment, where Vadym Dovhoruk served, to be the first to enter the Donetsk airport terminal in September, 2014. Then, the warriors haven't yet been called "cyborgs".

– The first injury I received at the airport, – Vadym told me in the intensive care. – The bullet went under the left collarbone. I was in Dnipropetrovsk hospital for two days, and went home to Kirovohrad after that. The injury was not serious. I had only one stitch put. I decided that binding could be done at home, so I'd better leave the place for other wounded. Besides, a lot of wounded from the Ilovaisk trap were taken to Mechnykov's hospital then.  

After the first injury, Vadym came back to the ATO area. Within the native regiment, he provided the withdrawal of our troops from the besieged Debaltsevo.

On February 16, the APC with Vadym and regiment's warriors was shelled.

The grenade flew into the manhole and tore the boy's hand. Sworn brothers pulled the Special Forces officer from the shot APC and took the fight. The vehicles that went behind it and carried wounded and other warriors turned round and went to town. Realizing that he needed to hide, Vadym crawled to the forest. In the rush of the battle, comrades-in-arms lost him and could not find. Then, two Special Forces soldiers were killed, others were captured. Vadym spent four days in the 20-degree frost. And it is a real miracle that he didn't bleed to death. The Ukrainian was found by "LNR" militants. They sent Vadym to the hospital in Luhansk. In a few days, they agreed to give him to the Ukrainian side.

The memories about four days spent in the frost carved in Vadym's memory.

– I understood that I needed to twist a tourniquet, and even took it out of the pocket, but I could not reach the shoulder – the armor vest detained me – my companion continues. – It was very cold. I chilled to the bone. All the time, I was in drowsiness. Coming to his senses, he heard the shots around, gunfire, but didn't know and understand what had happened. I hoped that our troops would find me and take back. In Luhansk hospital, one of the nurses sympathized with me. I gave her my mother's number. The nurse called her and said that I should have been taken away as soon as possible, otherwise, soon, there will be guard put near my ward and I would become a captive. I also talked to my mom then. But the nurse still calls her and asks about me.

We met Vadym in February, 2015, in the intensive care of the Kyiv Burn Center.

After Vadym's scars healed, volunteers brought him a maneuverable electric vehicle. The warrior at once learned to ride it on the territory of the Center. I saw myself the way he deftly moved from bed to the vehicle's chair. And I could not believe that a man with only one hand did this.

Vadym is very independent – soon, after the amputation, he mastered his electric vehicle and started driving in the street.

– The main thing is to think over every move, – Vadym explained, smiling. – I hold one hand at the wheel and pull the body to the chair. Everything is simple. 

The maneuverable vehicle expanded Vadym's opportunities. He started to visit other wounded fighters who were in the Burn Center, drove outside, where volunteers have repeatedly organized picnics for him.

– But I get to "Darnytsia" and "Lisova" metro station without any problems, – Vadym told me then. – However, I can't drive to the sidewalk and off it back to the road. There are no wheelchairs ramps almost anywhere. I think it will be much easier to walk on prostheses.

Several centers suggested prosthetic care to Vadym. He chose the Kharkiv one.

– It is closer to the native Kirovohrad, – the fighter continues.  

Several times, we agreed to meet with Vadym in Kharkiv when I came for drive-by visits. But the warrior was just uncatchable. Once, he went to Poltava to his sister's birthday, the other time, he met with his friends, then he visited the unit. The guy's energy just amazed me. When we finally met, Vadym... went to meet me. I could not hold back the enthusiastic exclamation: "You the man!"

– Was it easy for you to start walking again?

– It was easy. Just in a blink of an eye, – Vadym smiles. – I have German prostheses.

The components were sent to the Ukrainian specialists, and they've fit them for my stumps. Prosthetists distinguished the excellent work of a burn surgeon Vyacheslav Nazarenko, who managed to properly form the stumps, while amputating the legs. When I put the prostheses on, I immediately took a step, and then another one... At the beginning, I leaned on a stick. But I began to walk without any support very quickly. The first weeks, the doctors fitted the stump sockets every day. They did everything possible for me to feel comfortable, and nothing really rubbed. Modern silicone cases are great. My feet feel always comfortable in them. Now, my height is just as it used to be.

– Do you often change shoes?

– When I plan to wear uniform, I take the boots. But, most often, I go in trainers.

– You don't have an arm prosthesis yet, do you?

– The stump hasn't formed yet. So, it is too soon to use the artificial hand. But doctors promised me that I would try to use simple traction prosthesis in several days. It is necessary in order to make it easier for me to manage the "smart" hand. German prosthetists will make it for me. They have already invited me. They will teach how to work with each finger separately. Do you remember how I dreamed of the hand that understands and conducts commands of the host in the Burn Center? I will have exactly such a hand. I feel quite comfortable with my new legs – the scout says. – Now, I will wait for a "smart" hand.      

– Many warriors say they feel the feet, which are absent…

– I didn't have phantom pains. I convinced myself at once: if there are no feet and arms, so, there's nothing to hurt.

- Did psychologists work with you?

- No, they didn't. Although I understand well that everyone who was seriously injured, certainly needs psychological correction. A psychologist came to me once. She began to ask questions. I honestly answered. But in twenty minutes she said: "Now, I need a psychologist myself." And she went. Then, I realized that the problem is not with the guys who refused to work with psychologists, but with the specialists in this field. There are not enough professionals. I understand that I can no longer fight, so I decided to get an education of a psychologist. I think that after all I have experienced, I will be able to work with the guys who fought. I study in Kirovohrad Pedagogical University. Now it's my first session. 

Once again, we met with Vadym in Kiev several days ago. He came to the photo session. Moreover, the photographers asked him to juggle a ball by the leg during the photo shooting. The warrior easily accepted the challenge. And he did it as a professional footballer. The ball easily and joyfully jumped up and down over the left and over the right prostheses. When the ball flew away, Vadym caught it with the only hand.

– I'll train a little bit – and I will replace Milevskii, – Vadym joked. Where does he play now, by the way? It seems to me, I play just as well as him.

– Did you train to juggle the ball? – I asked the guy, when he was allowed to rest a bit.

– Just a little, – Vadym smiles. – I used to love playing football. When a team gathered in the regiment, I always joined it. So, for me it is familiar to juggle the ball. However, I'm a little bit tired. I still can't walk or stand on the prostheses for a long time. It is difficult. But, though, I can sit, as long as I want. And there are no problems with my driving the car.      

– Who drove you to Kyiv?

– I came here myself, alone.

– What do you mean "alone"? – I didn't get it.

– Having received compensation for injuries, I bought a car. I could drive before. So, now I'm completely independent. If the prosthetists call, I just get into my car and go. If I need to Kyiv, there's no problem. However, I haven't yet driven through the capital. I park the car near the driveway and drive further with the volunteers or friends.    

– Do you keep in touch with your comrades-in-arms from the regiment?

– Yes, of course. I visit the native unit regularly. Fellows also come to me.

I was surprised to hear that Vadym hadn't received any state award yet. Neither his courage and fortitude, nor his loyalty to the Oath of Allegiance to protect the Homeland were appreciated.

– "The People's Hero of Ukraine" Order, awarded in Odessa, is of a great importance for me. I appreciate it very much, – Vadym says. – Moreover, silver, from which the tridents are smelt, are sent by people from all over the world. There is someone's amulet, christcross, spoon, chain or bracelet in my award. This Order gave me strength. Ordinary people are grateful to me. And I can not loose my heart. I must continue doing something useful and not be a burden to anyone.

Confidentially speaking, the heart of this handsome guy is still free. Vadym wants to find love and create family. The girl, with whom he'll fall in love with, will be a lucky one. This man will be able to protect you in any situation, even despite the lack of legs and the arm.

Vadym confirms that he does not need any help. But prostheses may break; silicone stump sockets should be changed regularly.

For those who want to support the warrior, we leave the account details of "PrivatBank" here: 5168 7572 9403 3602 (The account is opened in the name of Vadym Dovhoruk).

Violetta Kirtoka

Information website "Hrechka"