Sitting on a bed in a small orthopedic clinic in Kyiv, Daviti Suleimanishvili listens attentively to the doctors explaining to him the various prostheses that could replace his left leg, torn off during the fighting in Mariupol.
• Read also – [LIVE] 98th day of war in Ukraine: here are all the latest developments
• Read also – Severodonetsk close to falling, Kyiv awaits new American weapons
Born in Georgia 43 years ago and a naturalized Ukrainian, he is one of the countless soldiers amputees since the beginning of the war, who are eagerly awaiting an artificial foot or arm.
A member of the Azov regiment, he was based in Mariupol, the southern port city that the Russians pounded for three months before finally seizing it last week.
In the front rank of the battle, this sergeant, known by the nom de guerre "Scorpion", was seriously wounded on March 20, when a Russian tank, some 900 meters away, fired in his direction.
"I received shrapnel, flew four meters away and a wall fell on me," he told AFP in a calm voice. "When I wanted to get up, I couldn't feel my leg anymore, my hand was damaged and I was missing a finger. »
Taken by his comrades to the heart of the Azovstal steel complex, he was urgently amputated below the knee, then evacuated by helicopter to a hospital in Dnipro, in central Ukraine.
Two months later, Daviti is on her feet again, although she needs crutches to get around. He hopes to get rid of it quickly, thanks to the installation of a prosthesis that the Ukrainian government must finance.
“The sooner the better, because I want to return to combat,” he explains, assuring that he is “much sadder” for his companions who died in Mariupol than for his missing member.
“A leg is nothing: we are in the 21st century and we make very good prostheses,” he says. "I know a lot of guys who have it on the front line..."
Wednesday afternoon in Kyiv, he had his first consultation with the doctors responsible for fitting him.
In this dilapidated building, a dozen specialists manufacture prostheses in the middle of a workshop covered with plaster, while, in the auscultation rooms, the doctors seek the most suitable model for their patient.
Daviti's case leaves them perplexed: one of them pushes for a "vacuum" prosthesis, where a valve will push the air between the socket and the stump; another pleads for a structure, according to him, more adapted to the war, “stable, flexible, and easy to clean”.
In the morning, they had seen another fighter from Azov and they expect to receive more and more military amputees, not to mention civilians.
“The first arrived a fortnight ago, they first had to be treated for the other wounds on their bodies” and for the wounds to heal, explains the director of the establishment, Oleksandre Stetsenko.
No figures are yet available, but President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned in mid-April 10,000 wounded soldiers, and the United Nations has identified more than 4,600 injured civilians.
To treat those who have been amputated, it will take "structures well equipped with plasters, thermoplastics, ovens, grinders, among others", notes the specialized magazine Amplitude.
But, according to this review for amputees, “the number of such clinics is limited in Ukraine and the supply chains imperfect. »
According to Dr. Stetsenko, Ukraine has about 30 establishments that manufacture prostheses. His clinic produces and installs around 300 a year.
Despite the enormous needs, she probably won't be able to pick up the pace because, he says, each prosthesis is "customized" to meet the patient's injury and needs.
Thus, for Daviti who is an artilleryman, the doctors will add 15 kilos to his weight, so that his future leg can withstand the load of the weapons.
“I need a prosthesis that allows me to do all the maneuvers,” he insists, when he is presented with a carbon foot and another in rubber.
In a week, he will return to get a temporary prosthesis with which he will practice walking. As for the final prosthesis, no one knows when it will be able to be placed.
But “two or three weeks later, he will be able to run”, predicts doctor Valeri Nebesny, assuring that 90% of amputee soldiers want, like Sergeant Scorpion, to return to fight as quickly as possible against the Russians.