Evacuated from War Zone, First Ukrainian Pediatric Cancer Patients Arrive at St. Jude in Memphis

The children, aged 9 months to 9 years, traveled with their families.

Ukraine Evacuees St Jude Memphis
Photo: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

The first pediatric cancer patients evacuated from Ukraine to the U.S. arrived safely at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, this week.

Four young patients—who range in age from 9 months to 9 years—and their families travelled aboard a U.S. government-operated medical transport aircraft from Krakow, Poland, to Memphis on Monday. In addition to complex medical care, at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital the children will also receive "trauma-informed psychosocial therapy to address psychological, social, emotional, and cultural needs," a news release explains.

St. Jude Global launched SAFER Ukraine (Supporting Action For Emergency Response) shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. SAFER Ukraine is a collaborative humanitarian effort that provides safe passage for childhood cancer patients and their families out of the war zone so they can safely continue their cancer treatments.

So far, the St. Jude Global SAFER Ukraine collaborative has assisted more than 600 patients. Most have been able to stay in Poland and other European countries, "but factors such as decreased clinical space availability and advanced patient medical needs can require sending children farther from home," including, for the first time, to the U.S.

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"Since its founding, the singular mission of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has been to find cures and save children's lives," St. Jude National Outreach Director, Marlo Thomas, daughter of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, said in a release. "As we witness desperately ill children fleeing their homelands in terror, gripping the hands of their mothers, and carrying their diseases with them, we renew our vow to embrace and protect the lives of these helpless children, with the full power of our medical expertise and the unyielding compassion of our hearts."

St. Jude is currently evaluating the patients and helping their families settle into its housing facilities. Updates will be provided once they've had time to acclimate.

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