Four Ukrainian children with cancer and their families arrived Tuesday at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, marking the first hospital in the U.S. to receive patients from Ukraine, officials announced.
According to St. Jude, the families travelled aboard a U.S. government medical transport aircraft from Krakow, Poland. Some of the children held white unicorn stuffed animals and Ukrainian flags as they walked into the hospital, according to video provided by St. Jude.
“Our promise to children with catastrophic diseases extends around the globe, and we are honored to play a part in helping these families move to safety to continue their children’s treatment,” St. Jude President and CEO James R. Downing said in a statement.
More than 400 Ukrainian children with cancer have been evacuated to a clinic in Poland. Doctors are rapidly working to place them in one of some 200 hospitals in 28 countries. Evacuations began immediately after Russia attacked Ukraine on Feb. 24 and is a joint effort of St. Jude, the Polish Society of Pediatric Oncology and Hematology, Poland’s Fundacja Herosi (Heroes Foundation), and Tabletochki, a Ukrainian charity that advocates for children with cancer.
“While there is more work ahead, we are committed to doing as much as we can as fast as swiftly as possible,” said Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, director of St. Jude Global.
The young patients who arrived in Memphis range from nine months to nine years in age. They will receive complex medical care, as well as trauma-informed psychosocial therapy. St. Jude is also developing school curriculum for the patients and their siblings.