Muslim paramedic helps team rescue Holocaust survivor from Ukraine

A rescue team made up of a number of organizations helped a pair of Ukrainian refugees secure their homes in Israel.

 Gutnikov lands in Israel after receiving medical care in Poland. He is originally from Mariupol, Ukraine.  (photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)
Gutnikov lands in Israel after receiving medical care in Poland. He is originally from Mariupol, Ukraine.
(photo credit: UNITED HATZALAH‏)

On Tuesday two Ukrainian refugees began the final leg of their journey to their new home in Israel, assisted by a number of organizations, including United Hatazalah. Among them was Khaled Hardan, a Muslim paramedic from Wadi Ara.

In a collaborative operation run by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), The Jewish Agency, and United Hatzalah, the two refugees — each suffering from severe medical conditions — were brought to Israel to receive medical care. 

The JDC helped the refugees out of Ukraine and The Jewish Agency arranged for housing for them in Warsaw, Poland.

The journey from Warsaw to Israel

United Hatzalah volunteers Hardan, and Russian-speaking EMT Vicki Tiferet from Moshav Yuval, made sure the patients were in stable condition and able to fly. They then assisted them with medical coverage on the flight, which carried hundreds of other refugees by virtue of the Jewish Agency’s efforts. 

When the refugees arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning, they were met by United Hatzalah ambulance teams who took them directly from the airport to medical facilities in Israel to continue their treatments and receive the proper care that they required. 

 Donia, a Holocaust survivor, is met by her grandson in Warsaw before continuing on to Israel.  (credit: UNITED HATZALAH) Donia, a Holocaust survivor, is met by her grandson in Warsaw before continuing on to Israel. (credit: UNITED HATZALAH)

What are their stories?

One of the refugees, a woman named Donia, is a Holocaust survivor. Donia was born in 1935 and lost both her sister and mother to the Nazis in 1942. She survived World War II and moved to Ukraine, where she eventually married and lived in Odesa. Her daughter and granddaughter live in Israel, while her grandson — who accompanied her to the airport in Warsaw — remains in Ukraine. 

The other refugee, a man named Gutnikov, arrived in Poland from Mariupol a month ago with his wife and three children. He had no severe medical history but suffered health complications during his stay in Poland.

“Members of the Jewish Agency were worried that he wouldn’t be able to fly due to his recent medical complication,” said Vicki.

“He required monitoring to make sure that his situation didn’t deteriorate any further, and as soon as he landed we had an ambulance waiting to take him to the hospital for immediate care. This family had waited a long time to immigrate to Israel, they suffered through bombings and watched the destruction of their city. We merited to help them come home thanks to the partnership with the JDC and the Jewish Agency.”

Khaled spoke about his experience bringing the refugees to Israel, stating that “This was a blessing for me to be able to go and help these people come to a safe place having fled the war in Ukraine. I am happy that I was part of the team that was able to bring them to Israel. I was blessed to be able to stand by this family and this woman and provide them with medical care during their journey.”

This was a blessing for me to be able to go and help these people come to a safe place having fled the war in Ukraine.

Khaled Hardan, a Muslim United Hatzalah paramedic from Wadi Ara