Toronto’s SickKids to receive some pediatric cancer patients from Ukraine


Toronto's Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto is expecting to receive two Ukrainian children with cancer in the next 24 to 36 hours, the hospital's CEO says.

SickKids says it has been working along with the government and community partners to prepare for the arrival of children from Ukraine for a 'number of days.'(Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Toronto's Hospital For Sick Children is expecting to receive two Ukrainian children with cancer in the next 24 to 36 hours, the hospital's CEO says.

The transfer is being made possible through the existing relationships SickKids has with hospitals in Ukraine, Dr. Ronald Cohn told reporters on Tuesday.

"We are fortunate through these collaborations to be in a position to be able to continue supporting our Ukrainian partners through these incredibly difficult times," Cohn said.

"And we will be there for the children and families who need us, while ensuring there are no impacts to patient care for Torontonians or Canadian children," he said.

Cohn could not confirm if the hospital will accept more Ukrainian children with cancer but said it has room in its oncology division. SickKids could accept 10 to 15 children from Ukraine, he added.

"We've made it very clear that we have more capacity. We are in daily contact with our partners and can take more if needed there," he said.

The hospital has contacted other children's hospitals in Canada, which have also offered to accept young Ukrainian patients.

Cohn said there is "actual war situation" underway and that things have to happen quickly for the transport to happen.

Ukrainian children to come to Canada via Poland

The children and their families are expected to first cross the Ukraine border into Poland before coming to Canada, he said. The transport is one of the most complex logistical challenges the hospital has faced, he added.

In Poland, the children will be assessed by medical personnel to determine whether they can withstand a long flight to Canada. He noted that the children may be in the middle of treatment and information on that treatment will have to be gathered.

Ontario's Ministry of Health and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada are among the government departments involved in enabling the children to come to Canada, he added.

Volunteers in Toronto have offered to provide food and toys for the children and their families, he said.

Hospital says it has 'moral responsibility' to help

Earlier in a news release, SickKids said it has been working with the government and community partners to prepare for the possibility for a "number of days."

"Toronto has a strong and compassionate Ukrainian community and SickKids has long-standing partnerships with Ukrainian children's hospitals that enable us to support urgent children's health-care needs in Ukraine," the release reads.

The hospital announcement comes as nearly 3 million people from Ukraine have fled to neighbouring countries for safety, with the Russian invasion well into its third week.

A maternity hospital was also hit by a Russian airstrike in the city of Mariupol last week.

"All children deserve access to specialized health care, regardless of their place of origin or geographic location," SickKids said in the news release.

"While the priority at SickKids is meeting the needs of children in Ontario and Canada, we acknowledge that there is a moral responsibility to provide care to vulnerable children from abroad when we have capacity.

With files from Muriel Draaisma and Lorenda Reddekopp

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