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Maternity ward protects newborns in the midst of Ukraine's battle

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 01:49

The staff at a maternity ward in eastern Ukraine do what they can to protect mothers and newborns from the dangers and stress of a months-long war. Mana Rabiee reports.

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The babies are blissfully unaware...but the basement of this maternity hospital, in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, is now a bomb shelter for the newborns. The hospital's converted the conference room to make space for incubators. Twice last week, staff, mothers and babies went into the cellar to escape the shelling on this embattled city. The nurses say the sounds of the shelling make the infants anxious. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) UNIDENTIFIED MEDICAL WORKER SAYING: "We keep children in incubators now and therefore we are trying to do our best to ensure the bombing does not have an effect on the children. But you have to understand that we cannot guess the effect of each bombing on children, they are varied..." STOPS TALKING AS SIREN BLARES More than 60 babies were born here in an average week at this time last year, before the fighting between rebels and government forces began. But only a handful of mothers gave birth last week. Like 26-year-old Irina Podturkina...she gave birth to a boy as the sound of shelling boomed through the city. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) PATIENT, IRINA PODTURKINA, 26-YEARS-OLD, SAYING: "It is a very difficult situation, we stayed behind because we were pressed for time and that is why we did not leave. Only the baby held us back here." Natalia Bondarenko gave birth to twins. (SOUNDBITE) (Russia) PATIENT, NATALIA BONDARENKO, SAYING: "Life goes on in spite of it all; it's just that it's now a little frightening. We want peace and quiet." Tape on the windows in this Soviet-era building prevents glass from shattering into the rooms. The buzz of the bare light bulbs echo off the damp walls. The staff keep the lights on permanently...so they can keep watch on the babies as the mortars fall outside.

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Maternity ward protects newborns in the midst of Ukraine's battle

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 - 01:49