CLEVELAND — Dr. Romana Merza is a burn unit doctor treating victims of war in her home country of Ukraine.
For 10 days, she's here in Northeast Ohio learning from some of the best in the world about everything from stabilizing a patient in the field to best practices as they heal in hospital.
"We have patients from all over the Ukraine," Merza said. "We have first aid on the border of the war and then they come to our hospital."
Alongside them is University Hospitals internal medicine physician Dr. Taras Malay, a Ukrainian American who has been helping ship medical supplies since the beginning of the war. He's seen the conflict go from a ground approach to cities being leveled by shelling, filling up hospitals and straining resources.
"I was going back to Ukraine," Malay told 3News. "I have distant cousins and some of them are physicians, and as they were getting shelled, they were in the hospitals."
Merza is at the mercy of the still-running trains bringing a steady supply of injured to her hospital.
"It depends when train comes to us," she said. "In one day, it might be 30, 50 victims on one train that comes to us."
Malay works alongside the Cleveland Maidan Association to ship these doctors as much materials as possible. As of mid-July, they've sent more than 310,000 pounds of humanitarian aid (including 220 trauma first aid kits), helped pay and ship roughly 19 ambulances and other rescue vehicles, sent 615 units of fire gear, and provided $465,000 in financial aid to nonprofits in and around the war zone.
For Malay to be here with these doctors, he can now see the good hands Ukrainians are in when they need care the most.
"I think this week I've done the most they could by helping train these physicians," Malay said.
The doctors here are spending a significant amount of time at MetroHealth because of their Level 1 trauma resources, but they are collaborating with so many others, including University Hospitals' wound clinic, Akron Children's Hospital's burn center, Summa EMS training, Akron fire, and Friday, they're headed to the Cleveland Clinic.