7-year-old boy left motherless and with burns on nearly half of his body after missile strike in Vinnytsia, Ukraine

A 7-year-old boy is still recovering from a Russian missile strike earlier this month after it left him with burns on nearly half of his body. The boy, Roman, was with his mother in central Ukraine’s city of Vinnytsia when the strike hit on July 14. 

His mother, Galyna Oleksiv, was among the at least 23 people killed in the strike, according to a Facebook post from his father. 

“The explosion threw his body and that ended up saving him,” Roman’s father, Yaroslav Oleksiv, said in a video interview with Current Time. “He was picked up right away and an ambulance arrived immediately.” 

Roman was conscious at the time that he was picked up following the blast and able to say his name, Oleksiv said. He told those helping him that he had been with his mother and that was buried in the rubble of the strike. 

“All the bodies they found from this shock wave, they were all badly burned…many had their limbs ripped off. None of the bodies remained fully intact,” he continued. “The doctors said they found some fabric with some writing on it. We knew that [Roman’s mother] had a T-shirt like that. … Plus, she had braces, and we could [identify her] by the braces.”

They confirmed she had been killed with a DNA test, he said. 

Дитинці, яка постраждала внаслідок авіаудару у Вінниці, нададуть допомогу в Німеччині. 👉 Ромчику 7 років. Він зі…

Posted by Перше медичне об’єднання Львова on Thursday, July 21, 2022

Now, Roman is undergoing significant medical treatment for his own injuries. In a Facebook post, the Medical Association of Lviv said that about 45% of his body is covered in external burns and that another 35% of his body is burned internally. Photos show the 7-year-old’s small body almost completely covered in gauze and medical equipment. His lower body is wrapped from the belly button and down, as well as both of his arms. His head is also entirely wrapped aside from gaps for his eyes, nose and mouth.

“[The burns] are so deep in places that they even reach bones,” the post says in Ukrainian. “Burn face, upper and lower limbs, airway … a closed fracture of his left hand and several shell fractures in his skull.” 

Roman was first being treated in a hospital in Lviv, but has since been transferred to a hospital in Germany for further treatment, including skin grafts and plastic surgery. 

The July 14 strike was called “an open act of terrorism” against civilians by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy. At least 23 people, including some children, were killed in the attack, according to Reuters, and more than 90 people were injured. 

Li Cohen

Li Cohen is a social media producer and trending reporter for CBS News, focusing on social justice issues.

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