Andy Kent, an orthopedic surgeon and former soldier from Inverness, is a volunteer with frontline aid charity UK-Med.
He said: “I’m not sure it would be most peoples’ idea of a birthday treat, but I’m looking forward to getting over to Ukraine to help on the ground.
“I’ve spent more than a few birthdays on weird and wonderful deployments overseas, including one in Mosul, Iraq. For some reason, May 2 seems to always clash with me being away. I was in Eswatini last year. I’ll be turning 58, so the thought of blowing out all of those candles on a cake scares me more than some of the responses I’ve been on.”
He said he had arranged to spend the weekend in Edinburgh with wife Jill before leaving for Ukraine.
The UK has announced it will send more medical support, ambulances and fire engines to Ukraine as part of continued support to the country.
Frontline medical aid charity, UK-Med, will receive funding, worth up to £300,000, from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to help train Ukrainian doctors, nurses and paramedics on how to deal with mass casualties. They will also set up mobile health clinics to support the most vulnerable civilians remaining in Ukraine, including the elderly and young children.
The UK is also donating £300,000 worth of medicines and pharmaceutical supplies to UK-Med.
Ukraine-Russia: Popularity of Kyiv newspaper article shows foreigners are still …
There have been more than 130 attacks on healthcare facilities since the invasion and the United Nations has recorded around 4,800 civilian casualties. More than 100 fire stations and 250 fire engines have been destroyed in Ukraine.
Mr Kent has already spent four weeks in Ukraine analyzing the needs of the country’s health care system, after being diverted from a posting in Yemen with the charity.
He said: “In the four weeks I was there, I don’t think there was a night you weren’t woken up by air raid sirens going off.
“It was only really when we got further east to places like Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia that we began to encounter hospitals full of casualties, both civilian and military.
“I’ve seen a lot of war injuries in my career, so I’m used to seeing acute amputations, serious head injuries and chest drains and all that, but it was the sheer volume of it that really blew me away. You can look at these young guys and they are lying there saying ‘Slava Ukraini’. When it’s a ward with eight guys who’ve all lost limbs, there’s a sort of camaraderie and fellowship, but I know it’s once they go back to their homes, that’s when the reality really starts to hit.”
Mr Kent said local doctors were “as experienced, if not more”, than UK surgeons in dealing with gunshot and blast injuries due to the conflict in the Donbas, which began in 2014.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “The Kremlin continues to lie about deliberate attacks on Ukraine’s hospitals and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians. Now our vital humanitarian support will help save lives and deliver medical expertise to the frontline.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.