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The doctors are giving him an intravenous saline solution to compensate for blood loss. The tiny, insignificant-looking mother by his side is torn between soothing her child by gently assuring him that he will be playing football again, and answering a long list of questions from the doctor.

The blood-curdling scene looks like it’s taken out of a war movie, recorded in a set with crumbling walls and chipped tiled floors, the kind that awaken early memories in a Soviet child. But this is no war zone. This is Okhmatdyt, the main state children’s hospital not only in Kyiv, but in Ukraine. The most complicated cases get sent here.

We’re in the emergency room. We have passed the purgatory of the first corridor, where a half-dozen patients and their desperate parents are clutching black-and-grey x-rays and thick coats of the same colors, staring hopefully at the door that leads to the inner corridor, waiting to be called in.

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