To News and Stories
In wartime Stories

Mykhailyk, 9, is recovering from the surgery: a fragment of Russian mine was removed from his brain

Due to Russian mortar shelling, a fragment of an enemy mine got stuck in the brain of 9-year-old Mykhailyk Volovykov from Kherson. Lviv neurosurgeons successfully performed a complicated surgery to remove a dangerous piece of metal from the child’s head, and now the boy is undergoing long-term rehabilitation.

Mykhailyk, 9, with his mom and doctor.
Photo: UNBROKEN Ukraine

Mykhailyk’s story was shared by UNBROKEN Ukraine.

Mykhailyk Volovykov from Kherson was seriously wounded during a Russian mortar strike on December 31, 2023, New Year’s Eve. The boy and his friend were having lunch in a cafe when Russians started to shell the city. The children quickly ran into the service room to hide but it was not safe enough. Mine fragments hit Mykhailyk directly in the head, and his 11-year-old friend died on the spot from received injuries.

Cafe in Kherson after the Russian mortar strike.
Photo: UNBROKEN Ukraine 

Kherson doctors provided the first surgical aid to Mykhailyk. Later, medical specialists from Mykolaiv performed surgery to remove fragments of his crushed skull. However, local doctors could not remove the mine fragment stuck too deep in the child’s brain.

“Later, it turned out that the left part of the child’s body was completely paralyzed due to the received injury – the arm, leg, and half of the face were immobilized. Mykhailyk was able to take his first steps only a month after the injury. But it was extremely difficult for him to do it. In a few more months of daily rehabilitation, the child started to raise his left arm and move more confidently,” shared UNBROKEN Ukraine on Facebook.

Mykhailyk, 9, with his mom.
Photo: UNBROKEN Ukraine

However, after a while, Mykhailyk began having seizures. According to the doctors, the mine fragment left in the child’s brain was one of the probable causes of this condition. Mykhailyk’s parents decided not to wait for even worse complications. They began looking for specialists who would perform a complicated surgery to remove a dangerous piece of metal from the child’s head. They turn to the Lviv doctors from the Center for Neurosurgery and Epilepsy Surgical Treatment of St. Nicholas Children’s Hospital, which is part of UNBROKEN KIDS.

Local neurosurgeons agreed to carry out an extremely difficult operation: a small fragment of an enemy mine was located not far from the area that controls the movements of the entire left part of the child’s body.

“My team and I made a difficult decision. We had to find and remove a small piece of metal 5 cm deep in the brain and in a very narrow area. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. We could also affect important functional zones during surgery, as the fragment stopped in a dangerous brain area. The boy could have been completely paralyzed,” says pediatric neurosurgeon Mykhailo Lovga.

A fragment of Russian mine removed from Mykhailyk’s head.
Photo: UNBROKEN Ukraine 

Fortunately, with the help of a microscope and a neuromonitoring system, Ukrainian neurosurgeons were able to safely remove an 8-millimeter fragment of an enemy mine from Mykhailyk’s brain. During the operation, doctors also closed the missing part of the skull with a titanium plate.

From now on, Mykhailyk has a long recovery ahead of him. Physical therapists from the UNBROKEN KIDS continue to work with the boy to improve his motor functions. At the same time, the specialists of the Mental Health Center are actively working to improve the child’s mental state. After everything he has been through, Mykhailyk has developed fears and anxiety: he does not speak much, shows avoidance behavior, and is afraid to leave his mother. The woman, in her turn, keeps encouraging her son.“Now you are made with titanium, like a superhero,” she says to him.

9-year-old Mykhailyk Volovykov from Kherson.
Photo: UNBROKEN Ukraine 

Mykhailyk dreams that one day, the Russian shellings of his hometown of Kherson will stop, and he will be able to return and live there safely. The boy is sure that Ukraine will defeat the enemy and peace will return to all Ukrainian cities, including Kherson.