Bay Area doctor returns from Ukraine, calls experience 'life-altering'

A family physician is back home in San Francisco after traveling to Ukraine to offer his help.

He described his experience there as precarious but that he's glad he went.

Dr. Eduardo Dolhun said he met a lot of great people during his trip.

He said there were challenges and things did not go as planned.

Still, he's already thinking about going back.

After a week in Ukraine, Dolhun arrived at SFO Tuesday afternoon with fewer  bags than he left with.

He went on a mission to the war-torn country to provide medical help and supplies. .

"Ukraine is at the front line of democracy and I'm a doctor and a disaster medicine specialist, so it made complete sense for me to go.  I couldn't stay here and do nothing," Dolhun said he's half Ukrainian on his mother's side but had never visited the country before. .

He shared video he took of a rally by Ukrainians in Poland when he first arrived.

He said he met people there who helped him cross the border into Ukraine and connected him with Dr. Oksana Andreikiv who is working on the front lines.

At a military hospital in Lviv, Dolhun gave the doctor medical supplies and surgical  tools. He said the hospital where Dr. Andreikiv works has been severely damaged.

"It's terrible. Help us please," said Dr. Andreikiv.  

Dolhun said he wasn't able to get to the front lines to provide medical care himself  as he had planned.

He said there were air raids three times a day and he had to hide underground in case of bombing.

I've been everywhere doing disaster medicine for 12 years.  This was the scariest I've ever experienced," said Dolhun.  

On his journey back home to the U.S., he saw Ukrainians singing their national anthem in Poland, the same people he met when he first arrived.

Among them -a 16-year-old girl who asked him to sell her artwork in the U.S. to raise money to help Ukrainian forces.

Dolhun described his experience as being life-altering.

"You get the sense that you have to do something.  Life can't go on as usual anymore

Dr. Dolhun hoped to return to Ukraine in a few months

He said his trip and the supplies are funded by his own money, his nonprofit Doctors Outreach, and donations from his patients here in the Bay Area.

To contact Dr. Dolhun:

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU or Twitter @AmberKTVU