Ukrainian pediatric cancer patients
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Kids With Cancer Evacuated From Ukraine Arrive In US To Continue Treatment

Pediatric cancer is one thing that should absolutely not exist anywhere, but sadly, it's one of life's most unfair realities. That it can exist in an active war zone is another, even more heartbreaking matter entirely.

But thanks to the determination of both Ukrainian and U.S. medical professionals and government officials, kids with cancer are being moved out of harm's way and safely to hospitals where their treatment can continue, as it should.

Memphis's St. Jude Children's Research Hospital announced the arrival of the first four patients on March 22.

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The patients, ranging in ages from nine months to nine years, made their way to the hospital aboard a U.S. medical transport via Poland.

Coming from a war-torn nation, doctors expect them to require even more complex care.

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"In addition to cancer treatment, patients will receive trauma-informed psychosocial therapy to address psychological, social, emotional and cultural needs," a press release read. "St. Jude educators are also developing school curriculum for these patients and their siblings."

Officials at St. Jude emphasized that these four patients were only able to receive care because of the efforts of many groups.

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"Our ability to quickly help so many children and their families in Ukraine is the work of many partners—individuals and institutions—dedicated to the shared vision of improving the quality of health care delivery and increasing survival rates of children with cancer and blood disorders worldwide," Dr. Carlos Rodriguez-Galindo, director of St. Jude Global, said in a statement.

Among those important partners is the U.S. State Department.

"Our partnership with, and commitment to, the people of Ukraine is steadfast and enduring. To that end, the Department of State has coordinated with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to provide necessary life-saving and immediate care to four Ukrainian children whose ongoing cancer treatment was disrupted by President Putin’s war of choice," a statement from the department read.

All groups agree that the four patients are likely only the first to be welcomed to the U.S. for treatment.

St. Jude Global's SAFER Ukraine (Supporting Action For Emergency Response), set up early after Russia invaded Ukraine, has already helped more than 600 patients, and while ideally they would like to keep patients as close to home as possible, relocation may simply be necessary.

"[The] children transported represent a small proportion of the thousands of patients whose cancer treatment has been interrupted and, who, even amid a pandemic and with compromised immune systems, were forced to flee their homes," the State Department said.

St. Jude is determined to step up to meet the needs however they can, officials say.

"While there is more work ahead, we are committed to doing as much as we can as fast as swiftly as possible," Dr. Rodriguez-Galindo said.

"This is exactly why my father founded St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital," Tony Thomas, son of founder Danny Thomas, said. "When he said no child should die in the dawn of life, he did not mean just America’s children and it is why St. Jude Global exists today."