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BRAMA, February 18, 2002, 12 pm ET

Press Release

Critically ill Ukrainian girl to receive possible life saving health services, thanks to Albertan woman.

Calgary, AB, February 14, 2002 - A Calgary-area woman is hoping Alberta's pediatric doctors will be able to save a severely ill seven year-old girl who is from Ukraine. Oksana Oliynyk has already undergone three heart surgeries and spent a total of nine months in eastern European hospitals due to a "hole in her heart" and resulting complications. Yet she remains in critical condition.

A retired nurse from Balzac, Kathy Shuttleworth has spent the last year fundraising so that Oksana can be brought to Alberta to get the critical testing and treatment she needs, which isn't available in her home country.  "I can't rest until this unfortunate child has the medical attention she deserves", says Kathy.

Oksana will arrive in Calgary on February 17, 2002 and undergo a number of tests and treatments throughout the next two weeks at Alberta Children's Hospital. But if the tests prove Oksana's condition warrants surgery, the seven year-old will receive a fourth open-heart surgery.

"This little girl's most recent surgery involved replacing a heart valve, which was not successful. The result is she now has chronic congestive heart failure and severe physical limitations. Our hope is to investigate her heart using the latest medical technology available and offer her heart surgery that will allow her to live a normal life", says Dr. Michael Giuffre, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics Alberta Children's Hospital.

With the assistance of Calgary-based charity Medical Mercy Canada, Kathy Shuttleworth has so far raised $30,000 to cover the costs of bringing Oksana and her mother to Calgary and to cover the costs of the hospital tests. But if it's discovered that the little girl needs another heart surgery, it could cost upwards in the range of $100,000 Cnd.

Dr. Giuffre and Edmonton pediatric heart surgeon, Dr. Ivan Rebeyka, Clinical Professor of Surgery and Pediatrics at the University of Alberta, have already volunteered their services at no cost should Oksana need surgery. However, additional funding will be required to cover the cost of Oksana's hospitalization and post-operative care, which would take place in Edmonton at the University of Alberta Stollery Children's Hospital.

The problem lies in where the money to cover the costs associated with the surgery will come from. The combined income of Oksana's mother, a teacher, and her father, a driver, amounts to only $105 Cnd a month. They will not be able to afford the surgery that could save their daughter's life.

Medical Mercy Canada is therefore appealing to the generosity of Canadians for financial support. The organization's goal will be to raise $100,000. Fully tax-deductible donations can be made on-line at Medical Mercy Canada's Web site or by mail to The Oksana Fund, c/o Medical Mercy Canada, Bankers Hall P.O. Box 22151, Calgary, Alberta T2P 4J5.

Medical Mercy Canada is determined that 100% of Oksana's expenses will be paid for through donations and fundraising efforts and that no Albertan or Canadian will be delayed in their treatment because of Oksana's admission to a Canadian hospital. Oksana's test results and diagnosis are expected the first week of March.

About Medical Mercy Canada
"Medical Mercy Canada" (MMC) is a registered, non-governmental, non-religious, charitable organization started in Calgary, Alberta by Dr. Myron and Elaine Semkuley. MMC provides medical supplies, instruction and support for local social programs to Burmese refugees in Thailand and impoverished Ukraine villagers. MMC was officially registered as a charity with the Government of Canada in June 1999.

For more information, please contact:

Jill Thomas, Consultant Hill and Knowlton Canada
tel: (403) 299-9380

On behalf of:

Kathy Shuttleworth
Medical Mercy Canada
Tel: (403) 226-0056

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