SoCal man joins mission to help rescue orphans trapped in Ukraine

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As millions of people flee Ukraine amid attacks from Russian forces, some of the most vulnerable children have been unable to escape the fighting.

The images from Ukraine are heartbreaking - orphans huddled together by the dozens in basements as the bombing continues.

It is the disabled and special needs children most at risk.

"These disabled orphans are truly forgotten in all of this," said Mike Leum, a 30-year L.A. County Sheriff's Department search and rescue volunteer. "They are in desperate need of extraction, many of them are needing constant medical care."

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Leum along with two other sheriff's department volunteers, including Ozzy Osbourne's son Jack, are now part of a team in Romania headed into the heart of the war to rescue 19 disabled orphans who have been adopted by U.S. families.

"These orphans all have families in the U.S. waiting for them and they're in various stages of the adoption process," Leum said.

Their mission is now taking a desperate turn as they've learned more young lives are on the line.

"Just last night we were requested desperately by two other orphanages to help extract them out of the area because the nurses and nannies who care for the kids have all left and gone back to be with their families," Leum said.

Some of the children need 24-hour care and likely won't survive.

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She said she and her brother were stuck in traffic for eight days until they were able to get to Poland. Her father, however, stayed behind to help fight.



A team of 13 volunteers are putting their lives on the line to help save the most vulnerable children.

"I'm comfortable operating in this environment, and we just want to get in there and do as much good as we can as quick as we can," Leum said.

Due to the danger, the team can't say where or when their mission will begin.

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Ukrainian organizations in Los Angeles have chosen to combine their efforts to best help their countrymen and women back home.



Leum's emotional message to the adoptive parents anxiously waiting to know if their child is alive is hitting straight at the heart of why they are there.

"We're going to bring your children home," Leum said.

The volunteers are in need of financial help in their mission. To donate visit joinexitus.org.

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