Ukrainian teacher blinded in Russian missile attack: My sight has been saved thanks to the Mail
Ukrainian teacher blinded in Russian missile attack: My sight has been saved – thanks to the Mail… after readers donated £10,000 for an eye operation
- Olena Kurylo’s blood-streaked face was seen everywhere after attack in Kharkiv
- The Ukrainian teacher has had her vision restored thanks to our MOS readers
A Ukrainian teacher who was blinded in a missile attack at the start of Russia’s invasion has had her vision restored thanks to Mail on Sunday readers.
Shocking photographs of Olena Kurylo’s blood-streaked face were seen around the world after a missile exploded outside her flat near Kharkiv just hours after Vladimir Putin’s troops marched in last February. The 53-year-old mother was left with glass lodged in her right eye and hundreds of tiny shards embedded in her skin.
The MoS helped her get to Poland, where she had three operations to preserve her eye and prevent a potentially fatal infection. Polish doctors pinned her detached retina and filled the eye with silicone oil, but later struggled to remove the oil without the retina coming loose.
Photographs of Olena Kurylo’s bandaged face were seen around the world in the early days of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine
Thanks to the incredible Mail Force donations, the money for Olena’s eye surgery was raised within 24 hours
In August they concluded the vision in her right eye could not be saved. But the MoS refused to give up and secured £10,000 in donations from our Mail Force charity to fund treatment for Olena with consultant eye surgeon Tom Williamson at the world-leading Centre For Sight in London.
Her vision has now been restored following a 45-minute operation in which Professor Williamson removed the oil without detaching her retina.
She hoped for 50 per cent vision in that eye, but has 75 per cent – enough to take a UK driving test. Prof Williamson said: ‘Olena has really good vision, considering the trauma she had. Much better than I expected. She will not need further operations and can live without limitations.’
Olena, who was warned there was a one in ten chance that the surgery could fail, wept upon hearing it had succeeded. Hugging Prof Williamson, she said: ‘You cannot understand the joy you have given me.’
It means she can now start planning her future. Speaking from her host’s home in North London, organised by the charity Refugees At Home, Olena said she was hoping to teach nursery children.
This weekend, British Airways flew her to Poland, where the MoS had rented a flat, to recover. Thanks to British legal firm Mishcon de Reya, which worked for free to get a visa through the Homes For Ukraine scheme, she can teach in the UK.
Olena Kurylo with Eye Surgeon Professor Tom Williamson at her final appointment after successful eye surgery
Ukrainian teacher Olena Kurylo was blinded during a missile attack
‘I have been given my life back. The Mail on Sunday has given me this chance,’ she said. ‘I want to thank the newspaper and every reader who donated money. I can’t imagine what I would look like now if The Mail on Sunday did not save me.’
She plans to set up a charity matching Ukrainian orphans with parents whose own children have been killed.