Forgotten Heroes

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Professor Leonid Kinzelsky

After the Chernobyl accident, more than a hundred people of station personnel and firefighters who received large doses of radiation were hospitalized in Moscow at the Institute of Biochemistry, better known as Moscow Hospital 6. In Moscow, as well as at the Kiev Institute of Radiology and Oncology. Leonid Petrovich Kendzelsky, the chief radiologist of the Ministry of Health of the Ukrainian SSR at that time was the head of the clinic at the institute. A man of about fifty, not very tall with a tired look, but absolutely calm and collected, gave the impression of a good combat officer who had been at the front. In general, in a way it was. It was a front and not one. On the one hand, Kinzelsky fought for the life of his patients, and on the other, he had to deal with the harsh opinions of his colleagues from Moscow, who highly recommended that Moscow methods be followed. The official delegation from Moscow was furious that such bone marrow transplant operations were taking place in Kiev, which, in their opinion, could not be a priori. Due to the fact that Professor Kinzelsky was against the method of colleagues from Moscow, he was removed from the post of chief radiologist of the union.


From an interview with Leonid Kinzelsky.


- I was reminded that as a doctor I will be responsible for my approach. I was assured that if, contrary to the ban, I would transplant the bone marrow to the driver Burchak, who was delivering building materials to the destroyed fourth block of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, and he would die after the operation, I would lose not only the title of professor. These were then First Deputy Minister of Health of the USSR Shchepin and Head of the Main 2nd Directorate of the Ministry of Health of the USSR Mikhailov. At that time, Ukrainian radiologists were virtually deprived of the opportunity to discuss with their Moscow colleagues, since it was the latter who edited industry publications and formed the organizing committees of scientific conferences on medical radiology. Nevertheless, in order to help the driver G.N.Burchak, the doctor B.M.Baitman gives blood for direct transfusion. Alas, the shifts are insignificant. And then the driver who twice voluntarily drove into the reactor zone is transplanted with canned bone marrow. And things are starting to improve.


In 1986, the American "specialist" Dr. Robert Peter Gale volunteered to save the first Chernobyl liquidators. It was according to the method of Dr. Gale that treatment was carried out in the sixth hospital in Moscow. With the approach of Gale, Leonid Petrovich Kendzelsky did not agree.


From an interview with Leonid Kinzelsky


- We had firefighters from the same Pravik guard, whose fighters were also treated in Moscow. In particular, Leonid Shavrey was in the first line of firefighters, and then from the roof of Block “B” he watched what was being done in the mouth of the destroyed 4th reactor. Recently, he went to Israel for treatment, where the received dose of 600 BER (acute radiation sickness) was reconstructed for him on chromosome aberrations ... The thing is that we used the George Mate technique, which was successfully used back in 1967 during the accident, during a bone marrow transplant at nuclear power plants in Yugoslavia. The technique is designed to treat the so-called cytostatic disease. And in the 6th Moscow clinic they used the technique used in acute leukemia. Their main difference was that cytostatic disease is a sharp suppression of blood formation that occurs in cancer patients due to the use of radiation therapy or drug therapy that mimics it. According to Mate’s technique, a donor is placed on his own bone marrow. While the rejection reaction begins, the donor performs the main work on blood formation. During this time, his own manages to restore his blood-forming functions. With leukemia, the bone marrow is also affected by the cancer process. Therefore, it is adored with radio emission and removed. Moscow patients were given the chemical drug methotrexate, which mimics radiation therapy.


Simply put, Gale’s technique was to first destroy the patients ’own bone marrow and plant a stranger to them. The mistake was that for successful transplantation of someone else’s bone marrow, 36 parameters were necessary, and so that at least 18 of them were matched between the bone marrow of the donor and recipient. In Moscow, at best, 5-6 parameters coincided, and therefore the brain did not take root, and the patients died.

In Kiev, they worked almost the same way, planting someone else's bone marrow. But the fact is that at that time in Ukraine there was the oldest and richest bone marrow bank in the USSR, which was collected since 1936. He gave an opportunity for a large selection.

In June 1986, Dr. Gale came to Kiev for a visit. Doctors, professors, hematologists asked Gail questions, he could not answer almost any of them. Everyone was very shocked. Then, a few years later, it turned out that this man had no medical education and had no right to touch the sick at all.


From the memoirs of Peter Chavrey


- Doctors worked with us differently than in Moscow. There they were afraid of the guys, shied away from them. Doctors came to them in protective clothing, as in spacesuits. In the early days, no one gave them a dropper, and for two weeks they gave some pills. They settled on the boxes. And the doctors were talking to us. Then the chief physician of the Moscow hospital No. 6 Guskova, together with the American professor Gale, flew to us to see how Kinzelsky treats us. Our doctor wore only a dressing gown, and they went in their spacesuits, were afraid of Ukrainian radiation. Leonid Petrovich takes a card from everyone and reads out what our name is, what kind of tests we have. I was struck by how Gail approaches me and through the translator says, they say, this one will last seven years. And he gave his brother, Leonid, from 3 to 5 years. And my brother lived another 25 years, and I'm still alive. And the guys in Moscow remained in the cemetery. After the head physician of the Moscow hospital Guskova Angelina Konstantinovna removed Kinzelsky from his post, he still came to us, saying that he would not leave us. “They forbade me to work independently, and I saved the person,” he said. And Moscow wanted him to work according to the Gale methodology. My brother’s donor brain got accustomed, he began to recover. And they killed people with their experiments. How did it happen that only one person died in us, and in Moscow almost everything? After that, Kinzelsky was reinstated. And Guskova came again and asked him to share his methodology. But he did not give it, Moscow did not receive it, but America received it.

- I was often invited to the Chernobyl Museum when delegations came there. And somehow a group arrived where there were Americans, Canadians. They wanted to listen to live participants in the events. And at the end of the conversation, an African-American gets up and says that he wants to ask me a question. And the translator conveys: “You spoke very beautifully about Leonid Kinzelsky, but did you know Igor Kinzelsky?” I answer that no, I don’t know. He smiled, and said: "But I know." And after the meeting he came up to me and said that Igor was the son of Leonid Petrovich. “He is the chief radiologist in America,” the man explained.


Professor Kinzelsky was the chief radiologist of Ukraine for 8 years. Two years before the accident, this post was abolished as unnecessary. With a group of colleagues, he developed and filed the author's application "Prevention of ARS at sublethal levels." ARS is an acute radiation sickness. Sub-lethal levels mean deadly levels. The application was filed in 1985 and was studied somewhere for a very long time. In Moscow 6th hospital, its experience was accumulated and in higher medical circles was approved as the only and unmistakable. But when trouble happened, Kinzelsky applied his methodology. As a result, out of 72 patients, 19 were generally withdrawn from the ARS group, and the rest live. Alive, despite the fact that many of them had ARS of the 3rd and 4th degree.

Leonid Petrovich Kindzelsky eventually had metastases in his lungs, from which he died in 1999 at the age of 67.

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