Fish-Skin-Based Medical Supplies Sent from Iceland to Ukraine

Dr. Ihor Vitenko and Anastasiya Shyshlova.

Dr. Ihor Vitenko and Anastasiya Shyshlova. Photo/Contributed

Vala Hafstað

Thanks to the initiative of Anastiasiya Shyshlova, medical supplies from the Icelandic biotech company Kerecis have arrived in Ukraine, where they will be used to treat wounds resulting from burns, bombs and gunshots, Morgunblaðið reports. The products are made from cod skin in Ísafjörður, the West Fjords, and used worldwide in the treatment of wounds.

Anastasiya, who is among Kerecis’ 200 employees, was born in Ukraine and grew up in Canada. She lives in Iceland with her husband, who is from Belgium.

She has been following the situation in Ukraine closely for the past weeks and after experiencing anxiety and hopelessness, she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“The terrible situation in Ukraine, due to the invasion of Putin’s government, and uncertainty regarding the family’s future, especially that of my grandfather, made me very upset,” she states. I was constantly looking for news and checking to see whether the city I was born in was still alright. I had no idea how be of help.”

The invasion began February 24, and shortly thereafter, she heard of a Ukrainian doctor working in Belgium, Dr. Ihor Vitenko. In hopes of helping Ukrainians in the war against Russia, he had recently purchased a van, which he loads with medical supplies and drives to Ukraine, where he works at hospitals in the combat zone and teaches local doctors the latest Western methods in the treatment of wounds. With the help of her mother-in-law, Anastasiya was able to get in touch with the doctor.

“I told him we shared this feeling of injustice and asked him if he’d ever heard of or used medical products made of cod skin,” she relates. “He said he hadn’t, but sounded very interested.”

Sunday, February 27, Anastasiya got a green light from Kerecis to take the supplies to Belgium, and the next morning she got on board a plane to Amsterdam. From there, she drove a rental car to Belgium, where she delivered the medical supplies herself. She states she was received with gratitude, and the doctor appreciated being delivered the supplies in person.

“Dr. Vitenko and I had a great conversation,” she notes, “and the phone kept ringing the whole time I was there. People kept calling to offer help. While I was talking to him, he was offered three ambulances to accompany him across the border to Ukraine.”

The doctor left Belgium with the medical supplies the first week of March, headed for Poland. From there, he drove across the border to Ukraine, where Anastasiya hopes the supplies will be prove useful.

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