News Humanitarian/Medical

CUSAP missions restore hope for a better-quality life.

It has been nineteen months since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine started in an almost 10-year-long war. Thousands of lives have been lost, and thousands are forever changed by injuries sustained either on the battlefield or while simply waiting for a bus or turning in for the night. During the twenty-first century, in the heart of Europe, this is the reality of millions in Ukraine.

Surviving a mine blast or a missile attack is a blessing, but it is also the beginning of a long and painful journey to recovery. Veterans and civilians with craniofacial, head and neck, and orthopedic injuries who cannot be further helped in Ukraine are referred to the Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program (CUSAP), where a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, internists, nurses, and support staff deliver complex, life-altering reconstructive surgeries and pre- and post-surgical care to give patients a chance to return to a normal life.

For a glimpse into the life-altering work of the CUSAP team, we would like to share the story of Pavlo, one of 286 patients helped since the program was established in 2014 by the Canada-Ukraine Foundation and the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre under the leadership of CUSAP’s head surgeon, Dr. Oleh Antonyshyn.

About a third of patients return for multiple missions as their injuries are so severe that their recovery is a multi-step process with many procedures performed by the multidisciplinary team of surgeons. Pavlo is one of such repeat patients. He sustained a mine blast injury on August 31, 2022. He was missing the midsection of his face with full exposure of his nasal cavity. Pavlo was referred to CUSAP and became a patient in November 2022, CUSAP’s second mission in Poland.

To date, he has undergone reconstruction of his nasal framework, followed by nasal reconstruction and lip reconstruction and revision. Between missions, he was operated on by Dr. Oleksandr Lompas, a Ukrainian surgeon, who joined several missions and operated alongside Dr. Antonyshyn and the Canadian team. Dr. Lompas managed Pavlo’s case in Ukraine and performed smaller operations to maintain his progress and prepare him for the more significant procedures on the missions.

Please meet Pavlo and see his progress with CUSAP…

Photos by Andrey Syrko

On Tuesday, September 26, Pavlo had another long set of surgical procedures done by the CUSAP multidisciplinary team to further reconstruct his midface with a forearm flap and bone and skin grafts.

As Pavlo nears the end of his recovery, there are many more who are only at the beginning. As the war continues and Ukraine fights to liberate its land and people from under Russian occupation, more veterans and civilians will need reconstructive surgical aid.

We are grateful for the generosity and steadfast support of our donors for enabling the CUSAP team to restore hope and change lives of hundreds of Ukrainians, like Pavlo, who have suffered a serious physical toll as a direct result of war.

To continue supporting the Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program, please visit Thank you, Дякуємо, Merci.


Canada-Ukraine Foundation (CUF) was established in 1995 to coordinate, develop, organize and implement aid projects created by Canadians and directed to Ukraine. Read more about CUF’s history on Wikipedia.

Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program (CUSAP) was established by the Canada-Ukraine Foundation together with the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to help Ukrainians who were severely injured during the Revolution of Dignity in 2013 and the subsequent war in Eastern Ukraine in 2014. Since then, Canadian plastic surgeons have operated on 286 patients – civilians and veterans. The surgeries have significantly improved the quality of life of Ukrainians who undergo the operations.