In Russia, the only child with hydrocephalus in the DPR will be operated on. 14-year-old Dima Vikhrev needs to have a shunt replaced, thanks to which the boy can live and hope for an improvement in his condition. The fact that the child needed surgery became known only after his evacuation. Dima, along with his mother and 7-year-old sister, was taken from Yasinovataya to the Rostov region and settled in the regional children’s hospital. About how Dima from Donbass survived despite a serious illness – in the RT material.
In February, Dima Vikhrev, the only child in the DPR with hydrocephalus, was evacuated to Russia from the city of Yasinovataya in the Donbass. With this disease, too much cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) accumulates around the brain. This leads to compression of the brain and increased intracranial pressure. Dima’s hydrocephalus led to blindness and developmental delay.
In March, the boy turned 14 years old. When Dima was examined at the Rostov Regional Children’s Clinical Hospital, the doctors found out that he needed to replace a shunt that sucked out the cerebrospinal fluid that was squeezing his brain. Now the teenager is preparing for a life-saving operation.
“Dima fell asleep before the shelling”
“Dimochka was born prematurely at the 28th week. A week later, his head grew five centimeters overnight. Until the age of three, he developed like an ordinary child, only his head increased by three centimeters every month. Doctors only shrugged, saying that the operation was impossible. After three years, the growth of the head stopped, as did the development of Dima, ”says RT Victoria Vikhreva.
In 2014, a woman went with her son to the Kharkov Dolphinarium so that the child could take a course of dolphin therapy there. According to Victoria, the doctors doubted the success, but her son began to hold his head for the first time, said his first word.
Dima Vikhrev with his younger sister Masha
© Photo from the personal archive
But in the same year, the war broke out in the Donbass. Then, due to the incessant explosions and shelling from the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Victoria recalls, her child began to have convulsions. At the same time, according to the mother, the son fell asleep when the shelling began.
“I don’t know how to explain it, but right before the shelling, he constantly fell asleep. Sleep is his response to stress. For example, everything seems to be quiet, but I see that my son fell asleep at an unusual time for him. I immediately told the neighbors about this, we already knew: since Dima fell asleep, it means that the shelling is coming soon. And this has always been confirmed. We were guided by it, like by a barometer, ”says Victoria.
She recalls how once, at about three o’clock in the afternoon, a shell flew into the center of her hometown. The woman witnessed the terrible destruction. Literally an hour later, volunteers phoned her and offered to take her family out.
“I don’t even know how they could get through to me – the connection was already bad then. They said that they knew about my son, that they were already coming for us to take us to a safe territory, to Ukraine. I told them that now I don’t need anything from Ukraine, I don’t want to live with the Nazis,” the woman says.
At the time, she was pregnant with her second child. The pregnant woman went to the polls in May 2014 and voted for the self-determination of the Donetsk People’s Republic. In December, Victoria gave birth to a completely healthy daughter, who was named Masha. I had to give birth in neighboring Gorlovka, because by that time the Armed Forces of Ukraine had bombed the maternity hospital in Yasinovataya.
By the age of nine, Dima had almost completely lost his sight. Together with his mother, he continued to take courses in dolphin therapy, which gave success: the boy, who did not walk, learned to hold the bottle himself, turn his head and began to respond to the voices of his relatives.
In 2017, Victoria managed to get in touch with Russian neurosurgeon Dmitry Zinenko, head of the department of neurosurgery at the Veltishchev Research Clinical Institute of Pediatrics in Moscow. In the next two years, the doctor performed two operations on Dima to install a shunt, a system that sucks out cerebrospinal fluid to reduce pressure on the brain.
“They are shooting. But don’t worry”
When in February of this year shelling from the Armed Forces of Ukraine intensified in the Donbass, Victoria decided that her family needed to leave for a while to Russia. Dima, just like in 2014, started having convulsions again because of the shelling. The day after the start of the voluntary mass evacuation, the woman herself wrote on social networks acting. Minister of Health of the DPR Alexander Oprishchenko and asked to organize an evacuation for their family.
“My daughter is a child of war, she was practically not afraid of shelling. But Masha was really scared when she saw that I was packing my bags, ”says the interlocutor of RT.
Victoria, together with her two children, was taken to Rostov and settled in the palliative department of the regional children’s hospital. During the examination of Dima, it turned out that the boy’s shunt was not working.
“If it weren’t for this evacuation, we wouldn’t have known about it: Dima hasn’t had any visible deterioration or improvement lately. That is, the state was stable. At the hospital, we were sent for a CT scan of the brain, and the doctors saw that the shunt was not working, ”says Victoria.
While doctors do not know exactly why the system stopped working, it is already clear that the shunt needs to be replaced. On May 5, a medical consultation was held at the hospital, and the results of Dima’s examination were sent to Moscow by doctor Dmitry Zinenko, who operated on the boy.
The Victoria hospital said that they can live here as long as it takes for Dima’s treatment and recovery. Her friends, who moved from the Donbass to the Rostov region, offer the woman to stay here too. But she knows for sure that she will return to her homeland with the children.
7-year-old Masha Vikhreva really misses her classmates and teacher
© Photo from personal archive
“All my relatives are there, in the DPR. Mom, along with my sister and her daughter, went on an evacuation to Penza, but returned a month later. Still, a house is a house. Mom now works in a kindergarten in Donetsk, although she is already retired,” says Victoria.
According to her, Dima and Masha became calmer in the evacuation – the children began to get enough sleep, because at night they were not disturbed by the sounds of shelling. True, in recent days, salutes have been launched in the city, and the children of Victoria take these sounds for artillery strikes.
“Recently, a plane flew over the city, it was very loud. I told Masha that it was a plane, and she confidently says: “No, mom, they are shooting. But don’t worry, everything will be fine, ”says Victoria.
Seven-year-old Masha really misses her friends and class teacher – in September 2021, the girl went to first grade. Now she is studying in Russia: a teacher comes to the hospital to see her, because she is the only healthy child in the palliative department. And the girl is very worried about her dog, who stayed in Yasinovataya with family friends.
Victoria herself is also afraid for her family: she constantly watches the news about the shelling in her native Yasinovataya, Gorlovka, Donetsk.
“In the past two months, I have already had a tantrum twice. For the first time, when Tochka-U was hit in the center of Donetsk (according to the RF Investigative Committee, 23 people were killed as a result of shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. — RT). The second time I saw the news about the shelling of Yasinovataya and could not get through to my relatives. It’s very scary because of the unknown, it’s depressing. But the main thing is to have somewhere to return, ”says Victoria. Fortunately, the woman has the opportunity to turn to a psychologist who works in the hospital department.
“Son clings to life”
The RT Children of War charity project launches a fundraiser for the Vikhrevy family. Although Dima’s treatment is free, the family needs money for food, hygiene products, school supplies for Masha, clothes, shoes, mobile phone bills. Victoria is unable to work as she is the only one caring for two children.
“In the department, of course, they feed, but hospital food is good for sick children. Masha asks me for some normal, varied food, I try to buy her lunches or some goodies. We took warm clothes with us to the evacuation, and now it’s almost summer – we need shoes and clothes, ”says Victoria.
The woman has already received 10,000 rubles for her and her children as refugees, but these funds have almost run out.
While the family does not know how long they will spend in the evacuation. Their native Yasinovataya is shelled every day by the Ukrainian army. In the last 24 hours alone, five rockets from the BM-21 Grad were fired at the city, the DPR representative office at the Joint Center for Control and Coordination of the Ceasefire (JCCC) reported on May 11.
As for Dima, Victoria is sure that the operation will help the boy not only recover, but also learn how to pronounce words.
“When Dima was taken away for the second operation, in 2019, I approached him and said:“ Son, you have no right to leave us! The operation then lasted five hours, although the first one was only an hour and a half. My boy got out, ”Victoria can hardly speak, when she remembers this, she begins to cry.
© Photo from personal archive
According to her, when they arrived at the Rostov hospital in February, doctors prepared a ventilator, probes and pumps for them, but Dima did not need any of this.
“Doctors thought Dima was feeding through a tube. And he eats pureed food from a spoon. When they saw this, they were shocked. He eats almost everything, his favorite food is red or green borscht, cabbage rolls and stuffed peppers. He also loves bananas: he would eat them and eat them. He also holds the bottle himself, if I serve it on the wrong side, he turns it over himself, ”Dima’s mother smiles.
The boy did not have and does not have a single bedsore, and examinations in the hospital showed that he has a straight spine, internal organs are not enlarged, his heart works well and his blood composition is excellent, says Victoria.
“Dima survived thanks to my love: I want him to live. And he wants to live. Even when he was small, the doctors were surprised, they said that he was clinging to life. I have no doubt about it,” says Victoria.