Public Health Fakes: "Black transplantologists" are hiding the waste from their work in the cemetery in Odesa. Issue #77

Public Health Fakes: “Black transplantologists” are hiding the waste from their work in the cemetery in Odesa. Issue #77

Photo: / ArturVerkhovetskiy
1 December 2023

The topic of “black transplantology in Ukraine” is always relevant for Russian propagandists. Following the typical scenario, they presented an eight-year-old video to the audience as something new. Allegedly, signs with the inscription “surgical waste” appeared on a cemetery in Odesa, indicating the activity of “black transplantologists” in the region. The medical mission FRIDA Ukraine is also accused of illegal activities, claiming that Israeli doctors within the framework of this mission are “collecting organs for Japan.” Propagandists draw this conclusion partly because the project is partially funded by the Japanese government.

With the support of the USAID Health Reform Support project, VoxCheck analyzes and refutes public health narratives spread in the information space of Ukraine, Belarus, and russia on a weekly basis.

Information is circulating online, suggesting that there are recent images from a Ukrainian cemetery depicting “surgical waste,” insinuating the involvement of “black transplantologists.” Accusations are also being directed towards the FRIDA Ukraine medical mission project, supported by the UN Development Program and the government of Japan. Allegedly, the mission does not provide medical assistance to people in frontline areas but is engaged in “organ transplantation.” This narrative implies that Japan urgently needs donors, and Israeli doctors are the world’s best transplantologists.

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What’s the reality?

A reverse search on Google revealed that the video from the cemetery of “surgical waste” has been circulating on the internet since at least 2015. Back then, Russian media spread a fake story that under the guise of “surgical waste,” they were secretly burying deceased ATO soldiers. Local media sought comment from Serhii Stasenko, the head of the Western Cemetery, who debunked the rumors. “There was not and cannot be anything like that; it is a criminal offense to secretly bury people or their remains. Each grave has documents that also correspond to the morgue code record. For example, in December of last year, we had 48 graves under the ‘surgical waste’ signs; this year, it’s 31. Perhaps someone finds it beneficial to spread such rumors and stir up society.

So, at the Western Cemetery in Odesa, there is indeed an area where “surgical waste” is disposed of aborted materials, amputated body parts, etc. There are also unmarked graves with inscriptions on concrete plaques like “unknown man” and “unknown woman.” As explained by the cemetery’s director at the time, Anatolii Holovan, in 2010, these are homeless individuals, people whose names could not be identified, and deceased newborns. Sometimes, relatives who are later found erect memorials or crosses on the graves.

The disposal of surgical waste is not atypical and is a standard element of any healthcare system. The presence of such areas in cemeteries does not in any way indicate the operation of “black transplantologists” in the region.

Unfounded are also the accusations of “secret transplants for Japan” against the Ukrainian-Israeli medical volunteer mission FRIDA Ukraine. The mission was founded by Israelis Roman Goldman and Mark Neviazkyi, bringing together 980 medical professionals from Ukraine and Israel. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, these medical professionals have been providing healthcare to children, people with disabilities, and the elderly in the hottest spots of Ukraine. However, they do not perform organ transplant surgeries.

With the support of the Government of Japan and the UN Development Program, the organization is implementing only one of its projects — “Enhancing awareness of acceptance and understanding of persons affected by mine-explosive activities among volunteer doctors, members of territorial communities, and the general public.” Furthermore, the project does not involve any surgeries or transplantations. Its objectives focus on increasing the awareness of volunteer doctors and members of target territorial communities regarding the rules of work and interaction with victims of mine-explosive activities, equipment procurement, and drawing public attention to the issue. The project’s implementation includes conducting training sessions and an online information campaign.

The Ministry of Health of Ukraine also communicates with the population on how to interact with people with limb loss or prosthetics. Experts and military personnel provide 5 tips for communicating with people with disabilities: do not stare, do not ignore, do not ask about the injury, do not pity, and do not help unless asked.

Source: Ministry of Health of Ukraine

This information piece was produced with the assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), provided on behalf of the people of the United States of America. This article’s content, which does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the United States Government, is the sole responsibility of Deloitte Consulting under contract #72012118C00001.



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