Ukrainians who lost limbs in missile attack continue recovery in San Diego

ABC 10 News KGTV
ABC 10 News KGTV

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) — A mother and daughter from Ukraine are recovering here in San Diego after both lost limbs in a Russian attack overseas.

The daughter, Yana, is 11-years-old. From her beautiful smile and cheerful spirit, you would never know what she and her mother, Natalia, have gone through.

Natalia Stepanenko explained they were waiting to board a train in Ukraine when they were caught in a Russian missile attack back in April.

“Everything went black all of a sudden. She felt like she passed out. Everybody was down. And when she came to… nobody was standing,” said a translator helping with the interview.

Yana lost both legs below her knees; Natalia lost one. When Natalia thinks back on that day, she says it’s “impossible to explain.”

Both have been receiving prosthetic care and treatment here in San Diego, and Yana just recently underwent surgery.

If you ask Yana how she’s remained so strong and upbeat through it all, she’ll tell you she doesn't dwell on the tragedy of the situation.

“She keeps herself busy. She communicates with her friends in Ukraine, and she has friends here, so she doesn't spend too much time thinking about bad things,” said the translator.

Yana says instead, she focuses on the good things — like her new friends in the U.S. and her passion for art.

She offered this advice for anyone facing the seemingly impossible: Keep calm, do not worry and life will continue.

While the Right to Walk Foundation has been helping cover the cost of Natalia and Yana’s prosthetic care, the family is still in need of financial assistance, as they’ve been restarting their life here in San Diego.

If you’d like to make a donation to help the mother and daughter follow this link. Donations through the House of Ukraine are tax-deductible.

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