Imagine living with an unexploded grenade, at risk of going off at any moment, lodged just below your heart. That was the reality for a Ukrainian soldier until recently. Doctors succeeded in removing the explosive from the chest of the man in his late 20s during surgery overseen by soldiers, Ukraine's deputy minister of defense wrote Monday in a Facebook post. Hanna Maliar shared an X-ray image showing the grenade, about an inch and a half long, lodged just below the man's heart, per Insider and the BBC.
According to the New York Post, the explosive was fired from a grenade launcher attached to an assault rifle during a battle in Bakhmut, a city in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk province, which the CBC reports has been the site of "intense, grinding trench warfare" since August. Fighting in the region is "the most intense on the entire front line," Ukrainian military analyst Oleh Zhdanov tells the CBC, noting many wounded soldiers "die where they lie, either from exposure, as it is very cold, or from blood loss."
Maliar said "military doctors conducted an operation to remove a VOG grenade, which did not break, from the body of the soldier," who was afterward described as in stable condition, per the Guardian. She said Maj. Gen. Andrii Verba performed the operation without electrocoagulation—in which an electric current is used to control bleeding and eliminate unwanted tissue—due to the risk of the grenade detonating.
Two sappers then neutralized the grenade, which the surgeon was seen handling with bloody gloves, Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser at the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs, wrote in a Telegram post, per the Guardian. He added the case "will go down in medical textbooks" as "there have never been such operations in the practice of our doctors." Back in November, surgeons wore body armor when performing a similar operation on a Russian soldier, who had a Ukrainian grenade lodged near his heart, per the Post. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)