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Critical medical supplies arrive in Ukraine from Pittsburgh

Pallets of medical and pharmaceutical supplies were gathered on Pittsburgh's North Side before Brother's Brother Foundation shipped them to Lviv, Ukraine.
Ozzy Samad
Brother's Brother Foundation
Pallets of medical and pharmaceutical supplies were gathered on Pittsburgh's North Side before Brother's Brother Foundation shipped them to Lviv, Ukraine.

As Russia launched an attack on Lviv, Ukraine Friday, critical medical supplies were arriving from Pittsburgh. Fortunately, those supplies still made it safely to a distribution warehouse, according to Brother’s Brother Foundation President Ozzy Samad.

“Literally at that time, they were hit by the missiles” in Lviv, Samad told WESA Monday. “They had to reroute.”

Getting the shipment from Pittsburgh’s North Side to Lviv was no small task. Samad — who is working with the Pittsburgh Technology Council, Allegheny Health Network and Highmark on these aid efforts— said the logistics are far more complicated than sending aid after a natural disaster.

“If you have a tornado or something…it comes and it goes and then hopefully the relief efforts begin immediately,” he said. But in Ukraine, the threat never stops.

“You can move from place A, where you’ve been bombed out of your house and home, to place B and you’re still being bombed,” he said.

The foundation’s first shipment included tactical trauma care items like clotting bandages, pharmaceuticals and a stomach pump, according to Samad. He said the partnership with AHN and Highmark and the Eden Hall Foundation has been extremely successful.

The plan originally was to send 10 pallets of supplies. But the shipment that arrived in Lviv last week was 72 pallets; enough to fill four trucks. The groups were able to raise $750,000, which is three times their original goal of $250,000.

According to Samad, a portion of that fundraising came from the pockets of every day Pittsburghers.

“The response from people in the city has been amazing,” he said. “We’ve had people come to our door with checks saying they heard what we were doing on the radio or TV.” One woman collected donations from everyone in her neighborhood before bringing it to the Brother’s Brother warehouse on the North Side, Samad said.

That generosity was deeply appreciated by the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, according to Samad.

“You can hear their voices quivering,” he said. “You can almost hear them breaking down when they hear that this is coming.”

Medical and pharmaceutical supplies continue to be in high demand throughout Ukraine. Brother’s Brother Foundation will continue working with the Ukrainian Ministry of Health to organize more shipments.

“When they learned about, you know what these particular supplies were, I was literally getting a call every day either from Ukraine itself or from the embassy here saying ‘Is there anything that we can do to expedite the process?’”

While the first shipment prioritized medical equipment, Brother’s Brother is also working on humanitarian aid for those displaced within Ukraine and in nearby countries like Poland and Romania.

The foundation is working with Giant Eagle, AHN and Highmark to send hygiene kits with toothpaste, soap, diapers, feminine hygiene products, granola bars and baby food this week.

Individual donations can be made at the Brother’s Brother Foundation website and 100% of those donations will be used to support relief efforts, according to Samad.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.