'Our biggest fear is to lose friends, relatives, children in every city in Ukraine. We don't want any war—we don't need Russian 'help.''
As Russian troops stormed Ukraine, a pediatrician and father of two small sons immediately gathered his family to drive them to safety. Speaking to TODAY Parents, Dr. Y—whose name has been withheld to protect his safety and the safety of his family—revealed that he fled Kyiv with his wife and two boys, aged five and almost one, to a safer location in the west of Ukraine before he returns to fight for his country. "Traffic is horrible—like any apocalyptic movie," said Dr. Y, who has been a pediatrician in Kyiv, Ukraine, for more than 15 years. "Three hours of driving (using) different streets to leave Kyiv and get to a highway. Lots of cars with kids; pets (being taken) away from big cities; long lines to petrol stations; lots of Ukrainian military cars and troops going into Kyiv."
For @TODAYshow @TODAY_Parents, I spoke to a Ukrainian father & pediatrician who drove 40 hours to get his family to safety. He is preparing to turn around to go back & fight. He shared with me that he uses Batman to help his 5 year old son "to be brave." https://t.co/QmQUldZ0qb— Danielle Campoamor (@DCampoamor) February 28, 2022
Dr. Y revealed that he and his family led lives that were "peaceful and full of plans" before Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine. "We bought a bee costume for my son, Lucas, for his Spring holiday in his kindergarten," he said. "It was planned for March 3." However, they had to leave the bee costume behind when fleeing their home in their family's car with only one emergency bag and "one favorite Batman toy, to be brave."
Children on their own, parents stay behind in Ukraine conflict https://t.co/KazNXOToA5— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 27, 2022
"My wife and I have talked to (our children), trying to explain and prepare them earlier," Dr. Y said. "We used my son Lucas's favorite superhero, Batman, as an example to be brave and fast. (We have) asked Lucas to help with our younger son. We also trained him to be fast and calm, (telling him that) our army will take care of us and protect us." Since Ukraine no longer allows men between the ages of 18 and 60 to leave the country, Dr. Y cannot stay with his family in their new location. When asked if he was afraid to return to Kyiv, his answer was unwavering and abundantly clear.
"No," he said. "I am ready to fight and I am angry as any Ukrainian now. With no doubts." Dr. Y revealed he remains in near-constant contact with his patients and their families via phone even while driving his family to a safer location. "They are afraid, mostly parents," he said. "(I'm) trying to calm them down." Dr. Y added that while neither he nor his colleagues have treated any children for war-related injuries as of the time of the interview, he worries they might have to someday soon, as he knows that many other hospitals have been caring for children hurt as a result of the Russian invasion.
"We have almost three big multi-departments, clinics, and I think that they have kids (who have injuries from the war)," he shared. "We are ready to work in any situation—we have all the equipment to continue our work. We are ready to work in any situation." It took Dr. Y 40 hours to drive his family to safety. He planned to spend a day or two with them, before turning back and returning to Ukraine to fight. He said he has promised his wife "that everything will be OK with our boys. And we hug."
"(My children) are under stress because of the night explosions, and staying in bomb shelters for hours," he explained. "Our biggest fear is to lose friends, relatives, children in every city in Ukraine. We don't want any war—we don't need Russian 'help.' Our biggest hope is to celebrate our son's first birthday on March 19, at home with no explosions in peaceful Kyiv."