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Life on the front line for surgeon Andy Kent who has returned to the Highlands after travelling to Ukraine to work with medical charity UK-Med where he witnessed Russian rocket attacks in Liev and Dnipro

By Ian Duncan

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Surgeon Andy Kent who is back in the Highlands after his trip to Ukraine.
Surgeon Andy Kent who is back in the Highlands after his trip to Ukraine.

An Inverness trauma and orthopaedic surgeon witnessed first hand two Russian rocket attacks at both ends of the same train journey.

Andy Kent, who is based at Raigmore Hospital, flew to Ukraine on his 58th birthday to work with the charity UK-Med for the second time since the war began.

The team was travelling to Dnipro and the journey took almost a day.

Mr Kent said that the Russians were targeting railway lines and the first incident was on May 3.

He said they took the overnight train from Lviv, adding: “Just as we got on the train, late in the evening, there were a couple of missile strikes at the station. There were two missiles that landed right near the station.

Passengers observe the smoke rising from a rocket attack in Lviv in Ukraine.
Passengers observe the smoke rising from a rocket attack in Lviv in Ukraine.

“We were advised to stay on the train. We travelled overnight and it took us nearly 24 hours to get from Lviv to Dnipro and, just after we arrived there was another big missile strike so it was both ends of our journey. I was thinking ‘maybe I should use a different phone’.”

Mr Kent said the rail lines were being targeted because trains were being used to transport weapons and arms. He said: “They were trying to prevent weapons from getting across.”

“Over the years I’ve been in lots of similar situations and we knew that most of the missile strikes were targeted, they were quite accurately targeted, so you would be pretty unlucky unless you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

He said the hospitals were also being targeted by the Russians. He added: “I have to be careful that we don’t give away the site but there was a hospital that was attacked, near Sumy, 30km from the Russian border.

“Sumy was taken over and this hospital was targeted – that hospital was then non-functional, certainly the operating theatres, so UK-Med set up a surgical unit.

“The actual infrastructure was donated by the UK government to UK-Med and then we got it set up.

“This area had been taken over by the Russians during the conflict and they just fired shells into the hospital.”

During his time there, he treated a variety of injuries – mainly people who had lost limbs or suffered shrapnel injuries.

He said: “We were operating, putting these fixator frames on this soldier who was shot through the elbow with an AK47.

“So we had done all the soft tissue stuff and fixed his elbow as best we could with what we had and then put this frame on to keep everything solid.”

As well as Mr Kent, other staff from Raigmore Hospital have worked with UK-Med in Ukraine.

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