MAYFIELD HEIGHTS, OHIO – Against all odds, Ukrainian Armed Forces Officer Miroslav Pylypchuk is walking once again, after stepping on a land mine in May and losing his leg above the knee.
The 24-year-old’s ability to walk was restored while in Cuyahoga County, thanks in part to the local Ukrainian community and dedicated healthcare team who donated time, resources and a prosthetic leg to help the new father get back on his feet.
“When I got injured, my initial thoughts were all on saving the leg, but once I realized the leg is lost, the only thing I kept thinking about is what’s going to happen next,” said Pylypchuk through a translator.
Igor Bondarenko, of Gates Mills, helped supply the tourniquet that initially saved Pylypchuk’s life on the front line and months later came to his aid with help from the local Ukrainian community once again.
“It’s incredible,” said Bondarenko. “I’m impressed with his mental toughness, physical toughness and motivation to get back to his life.”
Bondarenko assisted Pylypchuk with travel to the U.S., even hosting the officer in his home and made the introduction at the Hanger Clinic in Mayfield Heights that would result in Pylypchuk being able to stand once again.
“I met him about 10 days ago,” said Matthew Manolio, the Hanger Clinic Manager about the military lieutenant. “This is extraordinary based on his circumstances but also based on his mental makeup he is driven.
The Hanger Clinic helped Pylypchuk learn to walk with minimal assistance.
“I feel wonderful,” said Pylypchuk. “I’m super happy I was able to get back to walking in such a short amount of time.”
Pylypchuk said he is ready to fly home this weekend and hug his wife and hold his newborn son.
“My main priority is to raise my son, and make sure my son is raised in a country that is safe for him,” he said.
Pylypchuk plans to continue serving his country. Each day when he takes his first steps, he will be reminded of the kindness of his friends in the U.S. Wrapped around his prosthetic are the flags of America and Ukraine.