WCPO: UC doctor helps create ICU train to move Ukrainian soldiers from frontlines

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, like many people, Jonathan Forbes began to think of ways he could help.

Forbes, MD, residency program director and assistant professor of neurosurgery in the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, UC Health neurosurgeon an Air Force veteran, specifically thought of how his training could be put to use.

Forbes told WCPO that there were several Ukrainian doctors trained at the UC College of Medicine who were back in their home country who were now looking for additional guidance from Forbes and his team. It began with telehealth-type communication, but Forbes quickly realized the need to get on the ground to help work out some of the logistical issues that come with serving war zone patients.

In partnership with nonprofit organization RAZOM, Forbes traveled first to Poland and then to the Ukrainian border, taking care of children who had suffered shrapnel injuries and aiding in surgeries tied to tumor removal.

On the frontlines nearly 600 miles away, a UC-trained doctor was working through the problem of 87 soldiers overloading an ICU meant for 15 beds. The team brainstormed an idea to make a mobile ICU unit on a train that could help transport seriously wounded soldiers from the frontlines and get them to safer areas for treatment and recovery.

“Through contacts here at University of Cincinnati, active-duty personnel, we were able to get lists of all the equipment needs for the CCATT transport unit,” Forbes told WCPO. 

After developing the list, RAZOM was able to purchase a lot of the equipment needed to get the ICU train up and running.

“I’m glad we were able to help in some small way with the conflict,” Forbes said. “The railway in particular has been really a lifeline for the Ukrainian military and the people trying to flee the eastern part of the country.”

A special event entitled, “An Evening To Benefit Ukraine” will be held Thursday, June 16 and will feature guest speakers Jonathan Forbes, Mariya Soroka, co-founder of RAZOM of Ukraine, and Luke Tomycz, a neurosurgeon with Co-Pilot Project.

Watch or read the WCPO story.

Local 12 also featured Dr. Forbes' story. Watch or read the Local 12 story.

Featured photo of Ukrainian flag courtesy of Unsplash.