News Humanitarian/Medical


The Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program (CUSAP) provides comprehensive surgical assistance to Ukraine’s victims of war. CUSAP takes on the most complicated patient cases from the Russian invasion that, at this time, would not be able to receive full treatment in Ukraine. All patients treated on CUSAP surgical missions have suffered ballistic trauma from firearms or munition.

Since the establishment of CUSAP in 2014, a multidisciplinary team of Canadian medics has treated 286 patients with multiple complex injuries, each requiring several operations and procedures.

Serhii was a patient on missions 3 (April 2023) and 4 (September 2023) in Poland. He suffered a mine-blast injury on November 24, 2022. Serhii was left with severe damage to his spine, a shrapnel injury to the back wall of his chest, and serious trauma to his upper and lower extremities, including a traumatic amputation of his lower left leg and a gunshot fracture of his right femur and left humerus and scapula. He also sustained shrapnel injuries to both forearms. 

Those of us without medical training cannot fully understand the extent of Serhii’s injuries. However, we can all sympathize with his horrific experience and long and challenging journey to recovery.

With the care and skill of the CUSAP team and Serhii’s resilience and determination, Serhii has now taken his first steps since the injury.

Serhii had two very complicated surgeries during the third mission and another two procedures during mission four performed by CUSAP‘s multidisciplinary team of surgeons. His right leg was saved. This is him now:

“Serhii is representative of the people of Ukraine. He has made a personal sacrifice for his community and country and indeed the global community of such magnitude we might only imagine. I am extremely lucky to have met him, and that he was willing to allow me and our team to help him through this process. For all that he’s done and been through I am in awe and feel privileged to have participated in his care. I look forward to watching him through his recovery and to meet again someday soon.“ – Dr. Graham, orthopedic surgeon from Winnipeg who led Serhii’s case.

Over the last decade, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors have been involved in the CUSAP initiative, impacting the lives of Ukrainian victims of war. We invite you to continue leaving your mark of hope by donating today to support CUSAP. Together, we can make a real difference, bring hope and healing through life-changing surgeries!

CUF In The News

Mission possible: Edmonton ICU doctor helping aid in life-changing surgeries to Ukraine war victims

Dr. Oleksa Rewa, an ICU physician at the University of Alberta hospital poses with a Ukraine war victim that he assisted in a post-surgery recovery, while on in a mission with the Canada-Ukraine Foundation that helps warm victims receive life-changing plastic surgeries. PHOTO BY SUPPLIED

As an intensive care unit doctor at the University of Alberta Hospital, Dr. Oleksa Rewa has seen his fair share of people suffering horrific injuries. It comes with the territory.

But in March 2022, he got an opportunity to go to Czeladz, Poland on a mission with the Canada-Ukraine Foundation, and the trauma he witnessed will no doubt stay with him not just for the rest of his career, but his life.

“These were men aged anywhere from 18 to their 40s, which is still very young, having horrible disfiguring injuries. They’re basically the worst type of injuries you can survive from,” said Rewa.

“People were coming in much sicker than we thought and with wounds we didn’t even know existed.“

Rewa is part of the Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program (CUSAP), which is a program under the CUF, where a team of doctors and nurses across Canada, travel to Poland for multiple weeks and perform extensive and complex surgeries on Ukrainian military and civilians who have been devastatingly injured from the Russia-Ukraine war.

Their first mission was in 2014, and since the war between Ukraine and Russia broke in 2022 they’ve run ongoing medical aid programs every two months. It is anticipated that there are already approximately 20,000 amputees as a result of war injuries.

The war victims endured life-saving surgeries leaving them with life-altering injuries, and the medical team perform cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Rewa provides post-operative care for these patients

“It would be 16- to 18-hour days. You didn’t have time to really think of what was happening around you. You did what had to be done,” said Rewa.

“Every day was a surprise, and you had to be very agile and be able to pivot and deal with what was happening. There were a few times where it felt like we weren’t going to get things done, but with the efforts of our team, we got through it.”

Rewa performed surgeries daily on patients, sometimes multiple surgeries on a patient. Professionally, Rewa was tested to the highest degree, performing some surgeries he’s never had to encounter.

As a surgeon, surely there are times when performing surgery can sometimes become routine, but this mission provided so much more for Rewa.

“I remember one soldier particularly. I believe a mine had blown up in his face. His lower jaw was completely gone. He had a life-saving procedure performed in Ukraine, and then a titanium reconstruction of his jaw,” said Rewa.

“Because it was a dirty wound, it got infected and ate away at the bone and tissue grafts that were there.”

He remembers meeting him for the first time before surgery.

“It’s something you can’t prepare yourself for,” said Rewa.

“He was in the room with his sister, and he took off his mask and basically what you see is where we have chins, he has a metal plate, the type you’d see at the bottom of a helmet. After that it’s open and you see the base of his tongue.

“To keep the saliva from going down his shirt, because he had nothing to close his mouth, he would shove rags in there to close up the space.”

Since then, Rewa says the patient has had to have at least two more surgeries to get his jaw reconstructed, bone and skin put back in and his lips rebuilt.

“Now he can eat soup. He took a video of himself eating soup and sent it to our group, because that was something he never thought he’d be able to do again,” said Rewa.

Another patient that sticks with Dr. Rewa was an elderly civilian who was injured in a rocket strike. The man came to them with what was originally thought of as a scalp wound, but it became so much more.

“What we found when we took off the various bandages was a skull infection, with a very invasive and drug-resistant bacteria, and then he told us he couldn’t move his right arm,” said Rewa.

“We took off his shirt and found that his right scapula (shoulder blade) was completely exposed and he had broken bones in his right arm that were not known to us.“

As someone of Ukrainian heritage, this experience has really hit home for Dr. Rewa. He admits that he’s not someone who typically gets too emotional in his work, but this experience brought it out in him.

“What I found, on my flight back, I ended up having a five-hour layover in Frankfurt, and that’s when things really hit me. I got really emotional. It brought something out in me,” said Rewa.

“We helped a lot of people. It was rewarding for me, and it helped overcome the burnout I was experiencing from the COVID pandemic. As an intensive care doctor, throughout the pandemic.

“Professionally I was starting to burn out and to have something different like this to provide work that was rewarding and people appreciated, helped me get through that burnout I was experiencing, and ultimately it’s helped me care for patients here in Edmonton again.”

Rewa has been on two missions with CUF so far and is scheduled to go on his third mission in April. This is something that isn’t just humanitarian work for Rewa, it’s personal. It’s become a huge passion for him.

“It really has become part of who I am. The way I look at it, it’s four or five weeks out of the year. That’s about 10 per cent of my time, and that’s a drop in the bucket in terms of time commitment for how much value it provides these people and the entire Ukraine war effort,” said Rewa.

“This is something I’ll be doing for the foreseeable future, and I don’t see it slowing down for the next seven to 10 years. Hopefully, when things get more settled and stable, we can move these missions back to the Ukraine.”

Edmonton Journal

News Humanitarian/Medical

CUSAP 4th Life-Altering Mission in Poland – 27 patients, 32 operations, 105 procedures.

“Those suffering have absolutely no one to turn to. Ukraine is at absolute capacity,” says Dr. Antonyshyn, founder and head surgeon of the Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program (CUSAP).

Unfortunately, Ukraine’s overburdened healthcare system cannot alone handle the immense patient needs caused by the war. They need the help of international partners like CUSAP. The complex injuries referred to our group of highly-skilled medical volunteers require a multidisciplinary surgical team and the latest technology in facial implants.

During this 4th mission held in Czeladž, Poland, 52 Ukrainian patients were consulted, and 27 were operated on. During one week, the team performed 32 surgeries, which included 105 procedures: craniofacial, orthopedic and hand / peripheral nerve.

The surgical missions are specifically designed to address craniofacial trauma, soft tissue trauma, upper and lower extremity reconstruction and burn reconstruction. 

The heart and soul of these missions is the multidisciplinary team of surgeons, anesthetists, intensivists, nurses, administrative staff, and other specialties, including psychologists and an occupational therapist. This is a well-rounded team of incredibly skilled professionals who continuously volunteer their time and expertise to treat those severely injured in Russia’s unprovoked, genocidal war on Ukraine.

“It is such a privilege to be able to help these people. They deserve all the help we can give”, said Dr. Chris Graham, an orthopedic surgeon.

The hardest part of every mission is the goodbyes when we see patients being repatriated back to Ukraine. Over the course of their treatments, they become friends and family, leaving an impact on the hearts of each member of the team. The heartfelt gratitude of these patients leaves a mark that lasts a lifetime. “We had love. Now, thanks to you, we also have health”, said the wife of one of the patients.

Over the 4 surgical missions held in Poland – September 2022, November 2022, April 2023 and September of 2023:

  • 95 patients operated on
  • 110 surgeries performed
  • 331 procedures
  • 14 microvascular free tissue transfers

We are very grateful to all who continuously support CUSAP’s life-altering surgical missions. We would like to extend a special thanks to the two anonymous donors of $200,000 CAD and $75,000 USD, who supported this latest mission – thank you sincerely on behalf of the 27 patients who now have a chance at a better quality of life!

Our next surgical mission is planned for the early part of 2024. Please consider supporting this vital project of the Canada-Ukraine Foundation by donating at


Canada-Ukraine Foundation (CUF) was established in 1995 to coordinate, develop, organize and implement aid projects created by Canadians and directed to Ukraine.

Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program (CUSAP) is a humanitarian surgical aid initiative established by the Canada-Ukraine Foundation together with the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in 2013 that provides life-changing care to patients affected by the war in Ukraine. The surgeries have significantly improved the quality of life of Ukrainians who undergo the operations.

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.

News Humanitarian/Medical

CUSAP Team Lands in Poland for the Fourth Surgical Mission.

The Canada-Ukraine Foundation is pleased to announce the fourth humanitarian surgical aid mission of the Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program (CUSAP), which will take place from September 17 to October 4, 2023, in Poland. 

Next week, CUSAP surgeons, internists, nurses, and support staff will travel to Poland to deliver complex and life-altering surgeries to Ukrainians injured during Russia’s attacks on Ukraine.  

Every CUSAP mission hopes to ease the tremendous burden on the Ukrainian healthcare system by lending the time and expertise of our highly skilled and dedicated volunteer medical professionals, who deliver surgeries as well as pre- and post-surgical care with integrity and compassion. 

Photos taken by Andrey Syrko

The Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program would not be possible without the help of our collaborators and the support of hundreds of donors. 

In addition to funding from the CUF-UCC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, we would like to express our gratitude to two incredibly generous anonymous donors, who contributed $200,000.00 CAD and $75,000.00 USD to fund the September 2023 CUSAP mission. 

It is the generosity of all our donors and supporters that enables the Canada-Ukraine Foundation to restore hope and change the lives of Ukrainians who have suffered a serious physical toll as a direct result of the war. Thank you, Дякуємо, Merci! 

To make your contribution and follow the latest news on CUSAP, please click hereCanadian donations are eligible for tax receipts from the Canada-Ukraine Foundation. 


CUF-UCC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal (UHA) was launched in 2022 by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) and the Canada-Ukraine Foundation (CUF) to coordinate the provision of humanitarian assistance quickly and efficiently to civilians impacted by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including relief for displaced persons in Europe and Canada.

To date, we have delivered over $46 million in food, medicine, emergency shelter, mental health support, surgical aid, firefighter gear, individual first aid kits, ambulances, generators, and many more types of aid.

Please click here to read further about our humanitarian relief efforts since the full-scale invasion on February 24th, 2022.

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 and donate.

News Humanitarian/Medical

Third Mission of CUSAP for Ukrainians Wounded In War Underway in Poland

The third Canadian reconstructive surgery mission of the Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program (CUSAP) is underway at a Polish hospital in the city of Cžeładz. From April 22 to May 6, mission members are providing complex reconstructive surgical care to patients from Ukraine, war victims who have been injured in the gunfire and explosions brought by Russian aggression.

After undergoing remote examination by Canadian doctors, 48 Ukrainian patients are scheduled to undergo surgeries during the mission. Most of the patients require complex post-traumatic reconstructive surgery on craniofacial injuries, and on injuries to their soft tissues, upper and lower extremities, as well as burns.

“The cases are horrendous, they are getting much worse,” noted Dr. Oleh Antonyshyn, MD, FRCS(C), MSM, CUSAP Founder and Head Surgeon, “it’s to the point where Ukraine is having trouble handling them.”

The surgeries will take place in three operating rooms, with three surgical teams operating simultaneously; the surgeries are expected to range from 5 to 15 hours, depending on injury severities. Canadian doctors will be operating on a few of the patients for the second and third times. Following post-operative care, patients will be transported back to Ukraine, in the care of specialists.

The present surgical mission team consists of more than 40 volunteer medical professionals from different provinces of Canada and the US: 9 surgeons, 5 anesthesiologists, 4 physicians and 23 nurses (2 from the US); each surgical team consists of multidisciplinary staff, and each has its own surgical equipment and supplies.

Photo by Andrey Syrko

Another vital component of this, and every, CUSAP mission is the educational one: Ukrainian surgeons are invited to train with their Canadian colleagues, who developed a special educational seminar on craniofacial surgery for the Ukrainians. The current mission will see 15 Ukrainian doctors involved. The goal of the surgical missions’ educational component is to create a learning environment where knowledge is exchanged in order to improve patient outcomes back in Ukraine.

The reconstructive surgery missions were established by the Canada-Ukraine Foundation in partnership with Sunnybrook Science Health Center to provide aid to the people of Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in 2014; Canadian surgeons have operated on 286 patients since then, and the surgeries have significantly improved their quality of life.

From 2014 to 2020, Canadian surgical missions operated in the Kyiv Military Hospital, during which time the Canada-Ukraine Foundation provided nearly $1.5 million in operating room equipment and supplies. Canadian doctors have also performed surgeries in Lviv and Odesa.

The current mission is the tenth since 2014, and the third to take place in Poland since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion. The two previous CUSAP missions to Poland took place in September and November, 2022.

The host hospital: Powiatowy Zespół Zakładów Opieki Zdrowotnej in Cžeładz, Poland

The three most recent missions are funded by donor support collected through the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal (UHA).

Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal (UHA) was launched in 2022 by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) and the Canada-Ukraine Foundation (CUF) to coordinate the provision of humanitarian assistance quickly and efficiently to civilians impacted by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including relief for displaced persons in Europe and Canada, and medicines, food, emergency shelter, surgical aid, veterans’ needs, psychological support, winterization, demining and ambulances in Ukraine. Click here to learn more about and support the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

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.

News Humanitarian/Medical

Canada Ukraine Surgical Aid Program (CUSAP): First mission since russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine

September 5th to 20th, a team of 30 Canadian medical professionals travelled to Czeladz, Poland to treat Ukraine’s victims of war.

Team (35 individuals) consisted of:

  • Medicine
  • Anesthesia
  • Pharmacy
  • Nursing
  • Procurement/Equipment manager
  • Administration
Image is courtesy of Anka Wrzesnewskyj

The primary goal of the mission was to provide complex reconstructive surgical care to victims of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This was an exploratory (pilot) mission to:

  • Organize and fully equip an expert multidisciplinary Canadian volunteer surgical team
  • Identify a suitable host hospital, and establish the requisite professional collaborations, processes and protocols
  • Develop and implement a method for patient referral, virtual triage, safe transport and repatriation
The host hospital: Powiatowy Zespół Zakładów Opieki Zdrowotnej in Czeladz, Poland // Image is courtesy of Anka Wrzesnewskyj

CUSAP is well supported by volunteers, supporters and donors. Over $1.5 million dollars of equipment and supplies were donated from major companies. Volunteers provided warehouses, physical and monetary support allowing the team to transport over 14,000 tons of medical supplies and equipment.

Logistical planning and arrangements involved multiple levels which included both Ministry of Health in Poland and Ukraine. Licensing, patient documentations and arrangements of transportation were a major focus to ensure the process ran effectively and efficiently.

Image is courtesy of Anka Wrzesnewskyj

The Canadian team together completed numerous virtual patient assessments and an initial outpatient preoperative clinic (September 11, 2022) assessing 45 patients. Patients arrived to Poland in ambulances and were admitted and assessed by both the Canadian and Polish teams. Patients underwent multidisciplinary assessments and preoperative anesthesia evaluations. Where required, surgical plans were developed and operating room bookings were completed.

After 5 days of surgery over 40 extremely complex procedures were performed. The surgeries focused on the reconstruction of post traumatic or post ablative defects and deformities of the face, craniofacial skeleton, and upper and lower extremities. Etiology of the deformities varied, including military and civilians but all were war casualties.

The patients were monitored postoperatively, and provided care by the Canadian ward team consisting of highly qualified physicians and nurses. Team continued to receive daily updates on progress and recovery post-mission, and also provided necessary advice and guidance to leading (Ukrainian) physicians on care for these patients. 

The stories shared by the patients left a mark on the whole team. From a young soldier who was the only survivor after an attack on his brigade, to the woman who lost her home and nearly her life when a missile hit her village on a bright summer day.

The war continues and innocent lives are affected and lost every day. There are many more stories like these and so many more people in need of our help. 

The next CUSAP mission is being planned for the end of the year. Please continue supporting the casualties of this war by donating to CUSAP via Canada-Ukraine Foundation.


Canada-Ukraine Foundation (CUF) was established in 1995 to coordinate, develop, organize and deliver assistance projects generated by Canadians and directed to Ukraine and to the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada.