Disabled Ukrainian refugee Danyil receives ‘new life’ Recare wheelchair donation 

Ukrainian refugee Danyil Yashchenko, 15 with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, has received a ‘life changing’ powered wheelchair from Oxfordshire’s mobility and rehabilitation specialist Recare, to ensure his life in the UK can be as stable and independent as possible.

Marharyta and her disabled son Danyil were forced to flee the war in Ukraine and arrived in the UK in April. Their hometown of Kropyvnytskyi became too dangerous especially as they were unable to reach bomb shelters due to Danyil and his wheelchair. Living on the second floor of an apartment block, without a lift, meant Marharyta and her husband Sergei had to carry Danyil up and down the stairs. When air raid sirens were heard they could only shelter in the bath which would not provide much protection if their building was hit by a shell. With bombing of a nearby airbase becoming more frequent, Marharyta took the decision to leave Ukraine with Danyil and seek refuge ­– her friend Janet Bloor in Cobham, Surrey, agreed to take them in. Janet’s son Phillip, 28, also has Duchenne and at that time was being assessed by Recare for a new powerchair. Janet’s partner Andy mentioned the plight of the Yashchenko’s to Recare’s CEO, Richard Holland-Oakes, who decided immediately Recare would do what they could to help. “When we considered all that the Yashchenkos had been through we had to help,” says Richard.

“The thought of being uprooted from your own country and having the ordeal of war on your doorstep is unimaginable, especially with a disability. Danyil’s low cost smashed wheelchair was way beyond repair so we couldn’t leave him continuing to struggle along. We hope our donation helps to bring some happiness back into their lives. Danyil is a great lad, so resilient and fully deserves our support.” 

Janet met Marharyta in 2019 at an International Duchenne Conference in Rome and has stayed in touch ever since. They are both proactive in the Duchene community and Marharyta’s daughter was responsible for setting up ‘Duchenne Ukraine’. Care, medicine, and equipment for individuals with the condition are extremely limited in Ukraine, so Marharyta continues to passionately raise funds and awareness to improve the situation for everyone affected by Duchenne.

The offer of a donated powerchair from Recare was an ‘unbelievable’ gesture as Andy explains:

“Richard initially said he might have an ex-demonstration powerchair that could be loaned to Danyil. He couldn’t promise anything, and they would need to assess whether it was suitable, but he would look on his return to their headquarters in Long Hanborough. Two days later he contacted us about a wheelchair which might work. Plus, they wouldn’t loan it, they would give it to Danyil! We couldn’t believe it – it was so, so kind.”

The powerchair donated to Danyil was a Quickie Salsa M2 with powered seat lift and tilt. These functions have ensured he can achieve far more on his own during the day. Activities such as moving around independently, reaching up to the fridge and helping his mum with chores are now possible – a huge confidence and self-esteem boost for Danyil. Andy continues:

“It’s just fantastic to see Danyil in action, he is a changed kid. Whizzing around all day… he’s far more sociable, accessing things on his own that used to be out of reach… the list goes on. The difference in him is palpable. He’s happy and chatty, it’s amazing to see the change in him. Recare have been outstanding, you can see why their reputation is so respected. I’m so glad they are helping our son too; we really landed on our feet picking them as our dealer. You couldn’t ask for more thorough and understanding assessments from Ray and Richard – you can tell they both used to work for wheelchair manufacturers, they know everything. They have both been so caring about Danyil and their help has literally changed Danyil’s life for good. What great guys.”

Despite ongoing challenges, life in the UK is now looking more positive for the Yashchenkos. They are both hoping that Sergei will be able to come and visit soon as he is missed so much. Danyil’s dad continues to drive vital food supplies across Ukraine. Day-to-day Recare’s donation is making a huge difference as Marharyta concludes:

“Danyil has been using his new gifted powerchair for a couple of weeks now; he has become much more independent. He can freely go to the bathroom to wash himself and wash his hands on his own. Danyil no longer needs to shout ‘mum’ for help every few minutes and is now assisting me around the home. We no longer worry about fatigue on long walks and overall life is much more pleasurable for us. We only have one problem with this amazing new electric wheelchair – Danyil is now able to take ice cream from the freezer or something sweet from the table without my permission!” 

Donations to help people with Duchenne worldwide can be made here: The ‘Duchenne Ukraine’ website is here.