Ukrainian-born Los Angeles doctor working to get medical supplies to wounded

Denise Dador Image
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
LA doctor sending medical supplies to Ukraine
Dr. Alexander Rivkin of Brentwood is asking the public for help in his efforts collecting medical supplies for Ukraine.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As the deadly Russian siege in Ukraine shows no signs of stopping, many of us are searching for ways to help.

That's especially true for those of Ukrainian heritage.

Images of the deadly bombings and destruction of their homeland can almost be too much to bear.

One local doctor is now finding ways to get medical help to those in Ukraine who desperately need it.

Brentwood physician Alexander Rivkin knows what it's like to run from Russian oppression.

"It's heartbreaking for the people there because they don't deserve it. Ukraine. Odessa. It's a place that's very close to my heart," he said.

He said history in this region constantly repeats itself. In the mid 1970s, Rivkin's family lived in fear.

"The Soviet Union was a place where anti-Semitism was a fact of life. We fled because the opportunities available to us as Jews we knew were going to be very limited," Rivkin said.

Since those days as a refugee, he's come a long way.

Today, Rivkin owns a successful facial aesthetics practice and he's using his resources to save as many as he can in harm's way.

"My colleagues in Germany are in contact with the Ukrainian physicians that they tell them on a day-by-day basis what it is they need," he said.

High on their needs list: battlefield tourniquets and specially treated stop-the-bleed gauze,

"This type of equipment can truly save lives," Rivkin said.

And his connections with large cosmetic medical companies such as Allergan have helped him get those supplies on their shipping planes to Europe.

In 1975, Rivkin and his brother were on the receiving end of charity. They were able to come here to the U.S. and start new lives. This is his way of giving back.

"It breaks my heart to see all the horror that's happening in my country," he said.

Rivkin paid for one shipment himself, but now has started a GoFundMe campaign to help raise the money needed to purchase more tourniquets at a cost of $28 each. But their value in being able to save a life or a limb can't be measured.

"I'm ready to do this as long as it takes. And as long as the Ukrainian people are as heroic as they are now, it's the least I can do," Rivkin said.