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‘She would be dead’: UNMC doctor rescues sick mother from Ukraine

By Abbie Petersen

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    OMAHA, Nebraska (KETV) — KETV first introduced you to Dr. Valentina Gumenyuk back in February, when the UNMC researcher was desperately trying to get her mother to the U.S. from Ukraine.

Her mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor and they couldn’t wait. Now she says it was thanks to our report, that they’re both stateside.

In February, Gumenyuk introduced us to her mother through photos.

Her mom was more than 5,500 miles away in Odesa, Ukraine, alone and suffering from a brain tumor.

“She started to have the symptoms which is pointed to area where she can become completely paralyzed,” Gumenyuk said.

Gumenyuk works with people in similar situations in the Department of Neurological Sciences and knew her life depended on it.

Now, about four months later, they’re together in Omaha.

“It’s amazing because without help, nothing can happen like this,” Gumenyuk said.

Getting here wasn’t easy.

Gumenyuk says she ended up going to Ukraine herself.

It was around the time her mother was getting the tumor removed in the war-torn country when she found out her mom’s “U4U” paperwork was approved to come back to the U.S.

“So she got surgery and it was complicated,” Gumenyuk said.

Seventy-nine-year-old Mariia Humenyuk’s tumor was benign. But could have still cost her her life.

And she could not get continued care in Ukraine.

“Basically, if I would not bring her here and come here because I need to go back to work, I think she would be dead I’m 100 percent sure she would be dead. That’s how serious it is,” Gumenyuk said.

She’s so grateful her mom is safe here.

They say it was because of community members and our first interview with her, that she was connected to the resources they needed.

Like the Immigrant Legal Center.

“They’re really helpful and they’re working day and night to get this paperwork done quickly. And they know how to make things happen to be quickly because as I say, you don’t have much time,” Gumenyuk said.

She had questions and didn’t know where to start. And her mom needed medical help and they figured it out for her.

“She received Medicaid. She can go to Nebraska Medicine who helped me a lot to find her treatment. She needs treatment, of course, after surgery she needs huge rehab,” Gumenyuk said.

Now Mariia is focused on recovery and will start learning English.

“She sees nice people in the hospital, she’s meeting with she sees people in any, you know, organization she goes to. It’s a very, very friendly community,” said Gumenyuk, translating for her mother.

The doctor wants to thank the community.

And for others in the same boat, she has this message:

“Don’t be frustrated. Don’t be stressed. I know it’s difficult. I know. I see on my mom how she struggles to adjust here. And she misses Ukraine, even if it’s war zone. There but it’s her home. So you will get help if you know who to ask from. So and that system exists,” Gumenyuk said.

The next steps are to get her mom healthy and back home to Ukraine, whenever she can.

And hopes things will be different there when she returns.

“Have hope. So they will leave here one year or two years. Whatever is needed and then go back to Ukraine where it will be no war anymore and will be happy country,” Gumenyuk said.

For more information on the Immigrant Legal Center, click here:

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