How Ukrainian Doctors Removed A Live Grenade From A Soldier's Chest

According to CNN, an incredible surgery occurred in Ukraine when doctors successfully removed a live ordinance — a grenade — from a Ukrainian soldier's chest. The soldier's injury occurred after months of fierce fighting as Ukrainian forces pushed back the ongoing Russian occupation of their country, which at that point had entered its second year. How that grenade came to be lodged in the soldier's chest was unexplained.

Wartime medicine is, without a doubt, a grim affair, as The Guardian notes. Similar procedures to the grenade-removal operation have taken place in conflicts throughout history, most recently in Afghanistan, as CNN writes. In the case of the grenade's removal, the precarious position of the ordinance near the patient's heart, as well as the unique nature of operating on a patient in wartime conditions on an object that might explode at any time, made the Ukrainian procedure risky.

On that note, one common treatment for patients during such operations could not be utilized. After the procedure was complete, communications adviser for Ukrainian military medical forces Yevgenia Slivko said (via The Guardian), "I think this case will go down in medical textbooks."

Electrocoagulation could not be used

According to CNN, during similar surgeries, electrocoagulation — or the use of electricity to control bleeding — could not be used in the procedure for fear an electric current near a live grenade might cause it to explode. According to from the National Cancer Institution, electrocoagulation is also sometimes used to destroy tumors, among other applications. As written in "Pathophysiology of bleeding in surgery," published in Transplantation Proceedings, excessive bleeding in surgery is a significant risk that sometimes leads to patient death.

Despite the lack of electrocoagulation at their disposal, the removal of the grenade took place without incident, and the Ukrainian soldier — reportedly 28 years old at the time — was listed in stable condition and expected to recover. News of the procedure came via the Ukrainian Military Medics Facebook page, per CNN. The post read, "The operation was carried out by one of the most experienced surgeons of the Armed Forces of Ukraine — Major General of the Medical Service Andrei Verba."

The grenade was a VOG

Also, according to The Eurasian Times (ET), the grenade removed from the Ukrainian soldier's chest, which was located just beneath his heart, was a VOG. These grenades, common during the Cold War, are typically fired from a launcher and can hit targets up to 400 meters, or around 1,300 feet, away (via Meters to Feet). During the Ukrainian procedure, so-called "sappers" or combat engineers were on standby in case of an attack.

As the ET goes on to note, a similar surgery was conducted in Afghanistan when an RPG was removed from a soldier's lower abdomen. In 2014, an Afghani woman had a bullet surgically removed from her skull. As of December 2022, roughly one month before the successful grenade-removal surgery, Ukrainian officials estimated that as many as 13,000 Ukrainian service members died in the conflict, based on BBC News reporting. Meanwhile, around 9,000 to 18,000 Russian soldiers were killed, according to BBC News. Many more Ukrainian civilians have died or been injured in the fighting.