12:57 PM

A Ukrainian soldier was told his legs could be amputated. An American hospital might help him walk again

CNN interviews Duretti Fufa, MD, hand and upper extremity surgeon at HSS, about the injuries sustained on the battlefield of Ukrainian soldier Vladyslav Orlov and his care at HSS. 

The car Orlov was traveling in last October rolled over in flames after suspected Russian gun fire. Pinned in the back seat, Orlov said he was initially unable to get out of the vehicle – his feet had been crushed by the car and his legs had been wounded by the explosion. Once he finally did, he and his team laid in the nearby grass watching the flames to figuring out their next steps.

Orlov was taken to a Ukrainian hospital and told he may need to have at least one leg amputated or that he may never walk again. 

Ashley Matkowsky, Orlov’s American girlfriend and a videographer who had been working in Ukraine, recorded what he looked like after the attack.

That video caught the attention of U.S. volunteers and made its way to Gary Wasserson, a retired American businessman from New York who was already coordinating volunteer aid resources to the region. Wasserson asked HSS  if they’d be able to save Orlov’s legs and, optimistic they could, he was admitted.

Dr. Fufa, who is now helping care for Orlov, described his injuries as extraordinarily complex.

“The complexity comes from the fact that he had both soft tissue wounds as well as bone defects or missing bone from the blast injuries and the multiple fractures in each of the feet,” she said.

Since he arrived in the U.S. in January, Orlov has already undergone “two very lengthy procedures to begin the major step for reconstruction of both his right and his left foot” with care that has involved multiple specialists, Dr. Fufa explained. While Dr. Fufa is optimistic about the path forward for Orlov’s feet, she is quick to point out that reconstruction is one thing, however being able to walk again is not guaranteed just yet.

“I’ve warned him that this is such a long road that I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point we hit roadblocks where it feels like this is taking too long or that this is too challenging to continue to face,” said Dr. Fufa. 

Read the full article at CNN.com. This story also aired during the 7pm news hour on February 17, 2023. 

Additional coverage: cbsnews.com and pix11.com.