LAST UPDATED Dec 20, 2004
UKRAINIAN GIFT OF LIFE and ARCHBISHOP ANTONY
SAVE LIFE OF FIRST CHILD BORN AFTER INDEPENDENCE
Sergiy Omelchenko was born on the 16th of July in 1990 in the town of Drohobych. What a joyous day that was not only for his parents, Larissa and Stephan, but also for all Ukrainians. As the doctor announced, "It’s a boy!" the Verkovna Rada was announcing the decision for an independent Ukraine. With concern for what the future would hold for the social and economic condition of the country but with hope that the child could grow up in Ukrainian Christian traditions, a local newspaper pledged to follow their growth in parallel. The reporter wrote at that time, "Little boy! Our independence is yet vulnerable… It must be cared for and strengthened just like you…Grow big and strong to the joy of your parents and for our blossoming sovereign Ukraine." Ironically, the newspaper is called "Dobre Certse" ("Good Heart") and unfortunately, although the boy has an exceptionally good heart – he is sensitive and enjoys God’s creation, bringing home wounded sparrows and other critters. But, his physical heart had a life threatening defect which made it difficult for him to breathe, to run like others and made him pale in comparison to others of his age.
The media paralleled the ills of Sergiy and fears and frustrations of his family with those of all Ukraine. They compared Sergiy’s medical problems to the political and economic problems of independent Ukraine. The press lamented the lack of strength in Sergiy’s heart as well as the waning strength in the heart of the Ukrainian people.
Sergiy’s heart defect ( ventricular septal defect and left ventricular overloading) could be corrected at the Lviv Cardiac Surgery Center by Ukrainian surgeons. But although the technology and surgical skill is available, the difficulty faced by his family was the ability to pay for the operation. Although Larissa teaches music and makes a minimum wage (when paid), her husband is a crane operator and there has been little building and no work for Stephan for four years. Medical insurance is virtually non-existent and the socialized medicine system is not working. Sergiy’s parents turned to Ukrainian Gift of Life, Inc. at the suggestion of the charitable foundation CARDIO. His mother wrote, "I turn to you with hope and pleading that you save the life of my son. "
The case fit perfectly into the recently structured program of Ukrainian Gift of Life, Inc. Operation CHILD CARDI© -CARE. This program fosters the organization’s mission to promote the self-sufficiency of competent Ukrainian cardiologists and surgeons by facilitating the ability of the medical profession in Ukraine to develop expertise. This program complements the ongoing US-based program of bringing Ukrainian children to America for life-saving heart surgery not readily available
in Ukraine. Operation CHILD CARDI© -CARE is structured so that parish communities and civic organizations or individuals raise $1000 to provide the consummables and medictions for a specific child’s surgery in Ukraine and that money is transferred to CARDIO in exchange for surgery reports and updates from doctors and the child and family.
Recognizing that fundraising is time consuming and the doctor’s report indicated urgency to this need, George Kuzma, president of Ukrainian Gift of Life, reached out to one of its Spiritual Advisors, His Eminence Antony, President of Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-USA. Archbishop Antony not only pledged the financial support of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, but also the prayer support for the benefit of this child andf or the cardiologists and surgeons who donate their service through the CARDIO foundation. The Archbishop’s quick response permitted immediate care to be extended to this child and a vote of confidence in Ukraine and its people.
Serjiy can now participate in all activities with his peers. He can run and play and he and his family have new hope in his future. Because of Archbishop Antony and Ukrainian Gift of Life, the people of Drohobych know that by combing Ukrainian skills and the diaspora’s support, Sergiy will grow to be big and strong. In like manner, the hope that Ukraine will grow to be big and strong is renewed. The news article on July 16,1990 closed with the hope that "…God never cease caring for you. We all ask God’s blessings on your health and happiness in life." Ukrainian Gift of Life and Archbishop Antony have echoed these pleas on behalf of Sergiy and Ukraine. Sergiy has been healed. We all now pray that those blessings extend to the nation of Ukraine.
Anyone interested in the Operation CHILD CARDI© -CARE program or other programs of Ukrainian Gift of Life, Inc. can make donations or write to the charitable organization at Suite 333, 233 Rock Rd., Glen Rock, NJ 07452. All donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.
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