Physician sheds light on the challenges of medical practice in wartime Ukraine

The Journal of Nuclear Medicine has published a first-hand account of the daily practice of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging during the ongoing war in Ukraine. In a “Discussions with Leaders” article, Yaroslav Kmetyuk, MD, Ph.D., head of the All-Ukrainian Radiosurgery Center at the “Feofaniya” Hospital in Kyiv, Ukraine, speaks openly with JNM editor-in-chief Johannes Czernin, MD, and Ken Herrmann, MD, chair of the Department of Nuclear Medicine at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Essen, Germany, about living and working in a hospital in the midst of a war.

In the discussion, Kmetyuk details what it is like to practice medicine with the backdrop of constant bombing and shelling, how his department dealt with having only minimal staff to perform nuclear medicine and molecular imaging procedures, and why he and many other physicians chose to live in the hospital for approximately six weeks. Kmetyuk also shared how his family escaped Kyiv to flee to western Ukraine and then Poland.

The article also includes several photographs depicting life inside of the hospital: living in the hospital basement, soldiers being treated in the trauma department, a scanning room with boxes stacked against the windows to protect from bombardment, and a medical colleague who also fights in the Ukrainian army.

Kmetyuk expressed his gratitude for the support his has received from colleagues around the world. He offered a message of hope and encouragement for Ukrainian medical professionals. “I work in a rather narrow medical field,” he said. “But… I know that every one of us, every doctor, every nurse, especially in this time must do their best to work because this help is crucially important. I am proud of the colleagues with whom I work, and I admire their courage. I hope we will win soon and rebuild Ukraine to become an even better country than before.”

“The war in Ukraine is terrible and heart-breaking,” said Herrmann. “We stand with Dr. Kmetyuk and all of the brave medical professionals in Ukraine who continue to serve patients during the war and offer our whole-hearted support for their efforts.”