Amputated in Mariupol, “Scorpion” is just waiting for its prosthetic limb to return to the front

Posted on Friday, May 27, 2022 at 7:02 PM

Sitting on a bed in a small orthopedic clinic in Kyiv, Daviti Suleymanishvili listens intently as doctors explain to him various prosthetics that can replace his left leg, torn during the fighting in Mariupol.

Born in Georgia 43 years ago and obtained Ukrainian citizenship, he is one of the countless soldiers who have had their limbs amputated since the beginning of the war, and who are anxiously awaiting a prosthetic foot or arm.

A member of the Azov Regiment, he was stationed at Mariupol, the southern port city that the Russians bombed for three months before capturing it last week.

In the battle front rank, this sergeant, known by the nom de guerre “Scorpion”, was seriously wounded on March 20, when a Russian tank fired at him, 900 meters away.

“I received shrapnel and flew four meters and a wall fell on me,” he told AFP in a calm voice.

“When I wanted to get up, I could no longer feel my leg, my hand was damaged and I lost my finger.”

His comrades took him to the heart of the Azovstal steel complex, he was urgently amputated below the knee, and then taken by helicopter to a hospital in Dnipro, central Ukraine.

Two months later, Daveti is back on her feet, although she needs crutches to get around.

He hopes to get rid of it quickly, thanks to the installation of a prosthesis that the Ukrainian government must fund.

“The sooner the better, because I want to fight back,” he explains, stressing that he is “very sad” for his comrades who died in Mariupol compared to his missing member.

“The leg is nothing: we’re in the 21st century and we make very good prosthetics,” he says. “I know a lot of guys who own it on the front line…”

– ‘Stagnation’ –

On Wednesday afternoon in Kyiv, he had his first consultation with the doctors responsible for his installation.

In this dilapidated building, dozens of specialists make prosthetics in the middle of a plaster-covered workshop, while doctors search in listening rooms for the most suitable model for their patients.

Davitti’s condition left them puzzled: one pushes toward a “vacuum” prosthesis, whereby a valve pushes air between the cavity and the stem; Another advocates a chassis that, he says, is more adapted to war, “stable, resilient, and easy to clean.”

In the morning, they saw another fighter from Azov and expected to receive more and more military amputees, not to mention civilians.

“The first arrived two weeks ago, and had to be treated for other wounds on their bodies” and for the wounds to heal, explains the director of the institution, Oleksandr Stitsenko.

No figures are available yet, but in mid-April President Volodymyr Zelensky reported 10,000 wounded soldiers, and the United Nations identified more than 4,600 wounded civilians.

To treat those who have been amputated, it will require “structures well fitted with plasters, thermoplastics, furnaces, and mills, among others,” notes the specialist journal Amplitude.

But according to this review of amputees, “the number of such clinics is limited in Ukraine and supply chains are imperfect.”

– custom made –

According to Dr. Stetsenko, in Ukraine there are about 30 enterprises that manufacture prosthetics. His clinic produces and installs about 300 per year.

Despite the enormous needs, she may not be able to keep up the pace because, he says, each prosthesis is “customized” to meet the patient’s injury and needs.

Thus, for Daveti serving in artillery, doctors will add 15 kilograms to his weight, so that his future leg can withstand the load of weapons.

“I need a prosthesis that allows me to do all the maneuvers,” he insists, when presented with a carbon foot and a rubber foot.

Within a week, he’ll be back for a temporary prosthesis with which he’ll practice walking. As for the final prosthesis, no one knows when it can be fitted.

But “after two or three weeks, he will be able to run,” predicted doctor Valery Nipsny, assuring that 90% of amputee soldiers, like Sergeant Scorpion, want to return to the fight as quickly as possible against the Russians.

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