Vladyslav Shubin started his new job as a paramedic laboratory assistant on February 24, 2022, a date that may not hold much significance to most Americans. But Shubin isn’t American, he’s Ukrainian, and his time with Zaporizhzhia Regional Blood Service Center started just as one of the darkest days in his country’s history unfolded.
“The beginning of my medical career coincided with the beginning of a full-scale war,” Shubin remembers.
Fears of a Russian invasion had haunted Ukrainians and the world for months, but as he finalized his paperwork with the blood center, a training air alarm blasted over Zaporizhzhia – an ominous warning of what was to come. The next day, Russian troops launched their assault. As missiles rained down on his country’s capital city, Shubin clocked in for the first time.
“My first working day began on February 24 and lasted 36 hours,” he says. “I went to work in the morning, finished the day shift, went home to eat and came back.”
A year and a half later, the death toll of the conflict is believed to be in the hundreds of thousands, and millions of Ukrainians have been forced from their homes. But, recognizing the critical importance of his work at the blood center, Shubin chose to stay, and does so every day.
We here at Our Blood Institute want to celebrate the bravery and commitment of people like Shubin, which is why we, along with our Ukrainian partners DonorUA and our sister organization Global Blood Fund, have been providing hot meals to the 150 employees of the Zaporizhzhia Regional Blood Service Center each week since April in an initiative we’re calling “Thanksgiving Wednesday.”
Shubin says the meals have made a difference for him, and even jokes that they’ve changed his opinion on food in hospitals.
“The lunches are tasty and very balanced,” he says. “It’s also very nice that there’s a dessert.”