LSU Health New Orleans Newsroom

LSU Health New Orleans Physician’s Grassroots Effort Will Fund Humanitarian Aid to Ukraine

Your Help May Save Lives in Ukraine

March 15, 2022

bombed residential building in Kyiv

A GI Fellow at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine has started a grassroots fundraising for humanitarian aid for Ukraine. Lilia Stefaniwsky, MD, MBA, is Ukrainian-American with family and close friends in Lviv and Kyiv.
“My mother grew up in Kyiv and escaped from the Soviet Communist regime in 1979,” relates Dr. Stefaniwsky. “My father is Ukrainian-American, and his parents were from Ukraine and came to the United States around WWII. I spent my high school and college summers visiting my maternal grandmother in Kyiv and traveled across the beautiful Ukrainian country. My Ukrainian roots are deep.”

She is asking her American friends and colleagues for help at the request of two close friends in Ukraine.

“I met Dr. Ruslan Khairnasov about 10-15 years ago; he was my grandmother’s physician, and we formed a strong physician-to-physician relationship,” explains Stefaniwsky. “He has come to our major GI conferences in the United States in the past (like Digestive Diseases Week) to continue his medical education in Gastroenterology. I met Mykola Turyk also about 10-15 years ago; he is my mother’s closest friend’s son and works for the deputy consulate in Ukraine.”
Dr. Lilia Stefaniwsky
Turyk reached out to her about raising money to purchase a van to transport humanitarian aid and medical supplies from western Ukraine (Lviv) to Kyiv and bring civilian evacuees from Kyiv and other parts of eastern Ukraine to western Ukraine and Poland.

There has been an incredible influx of supplies from around the world, but the obstacle is distributing them. Transporting supplies has largely been a civilian effort, as has evacuation. Turyk says the need is even more urgent as the shelling has intensified, and agreements for the “green corridors” for civilians to evacuate have not been honored. Women and children need a safe way to get out of the war-torn country.

Mykola Turyk
“We live in a horror movie, and at any moment a missile fired from a tank can strike your home,” Turyk says. “Russian invaders say ok, we'll give you a green corridor for evacuaton and one hour later, they are killing civilians in this "green corridor." We desperately need transport to evacuate civilians from hot spots. Innumerable people are trying to find a safe haven in the country or abroad, and in order to get there, there are not enough resources or manpower. The main thing is that only women and children go abroad. Men stay to fight for their country, and they will fight even harder knowing that their family will be safe. We are all very grateful to the American people for the support and assistance that we receive. Thank you.”
Turyk says he plans to drive the van himself.

“I want to be the driver of this van,” says Turyk. “I’m not afraid, and I want to evacuate people from those points of conflict.”

Dr. Khairnasov is treating patients at his hospital in Kyiv, where medical supplies are hard to find.

“A lot of civilians, children have died,” he says. “These rocket attacks will grow.”

Medicines are desperately needed. Any funds left after the purchase of the van will buy them, along with medical supplies.

There are several ways to help.

Dr. Stefaniwsky ‘s GoFundMe page is at

Dr. Ruslan Khairnasov
Donations can also be made to Dr. Stefaniwsky through:
Venmo - @Lilia-Stefaniwsky
CashApp - $LiliaStefaniwsky
CashApp - $LiliaStefaniwsky
PayPal - @liliastefaniwsky

“What we can provide in terms of the purchase of this van is small but can make a significant impact,” notes Stefaniwsky. “New Orleans is a city that has rebuilt itself countless times, and I know our community can help rebuild the lives of Ukrainian people. I hope those who read this are inspired to donate to my GoFundMe that will give Real Support to Ukraine. My deepest thanks go to everyone who have donated in such a short amount of time. Your support means more to me, Mykola and Dr. Khairnasov than words can express.”

The courage of Dr. Ruslan Khairnasov and Mykola Turyk and their fellow Ukrainians is something to behold.

“This is my land, so I can’t go out,” says Khairnasov. “I have family—a wife, I have a child. So, I should help my Ukrainians, my colleagues to protect our land.”