9-year-old Ukrainian girl to receive lifesaving heart surgery at St. Francis Hospital
A 9-year-old girl who was born with a hole in her heart was forced to flee Ukraine and ended up on Long Island for lifesaving surgery at St. Francis Hospital.
Doctors told Polina's mother that she needed to have surgery immediately.
Her mother says the surgery was scheduled for February in Ukraine, but then Russia invaded.
"We must go from our country and take our whole life in one bag," says her mother Katarina.
Polina and her mother ended up staying with the Caputos in East Meadow.
"My husband I will do whatever for Ukraine," Annie Caputo says. "I said, 'My grandparents, my parents are from Ukraine. It means the world to us."
Dr. Sean Levchuck, chairman of pediatric cardiology at St. Francis Hospital, volunteered to fix Polina's heart. His own grandparents fled Ukraine with his father during the Russian Revolution in the 1900s.
"We're not political here, we're just trying to help out and make a difference and given an assist," Levchuck says.
The organization sponsoring the surgery, "Gift of Life Long Island," has had its mission on hold since the pandemic started.
Harold Miller, chairman of the charity, says it's a "no brainer" to rejuvenate the program by helping a child from Ukraine.
Polina, who has already gone through the experience of fleeing her homeland, says she's not even nervous about the surgery.
Katarina says she misses her home and is scared for the people left behind, but is grateful for the generosity of the Long Islanders volunteering to help save her daughter's life.
Polina's surgery is scheduled for next month and the doctors says she should be back at her home in East Meadow the next day.