Featuring Misha Volyanyuk, Surgeon

85-year-old Mihailo Andronovych Volyanyuk, or just Misha, was born in Polish occupied Ukraine along with his 2 sisters. He has been in the medical field for over 67 years and served in the army for 30.

Misha’s father was arrested by the communist party and sent to a gulag (work/prison camp) in far-east Siberia where he passed away a few years later. Misha on the other hand was branded a son of a traitor and relocated along with the rest of his family to Kazakhstan. He later returned to Ukraine after the end of WW2. Even though he excelled in grade school and on entrance exams, he was not able to pursue a higher education unless he renounced his father’s name. Misha did not.

Misha’s passion has always been medicine and surgery. While in school, to make money to help support the family, Misha also began working at the local psychiatric ward. After completing a basic medical education, he was conscripted into the army as a junior officer. As a captain, he was sent to serve in Siberia where it was common for soldiers to get mauled by polar bears at the time. During his service there he tried to gain entrance to the surgeon’s academy but was denied the opportunity by his superior officer. However, one day an important visitor came to the base. This was the same day that a soldier was snatched right from outside the barracks and dragged off to the wilderness by a polar bear. Although eventually rescued by a fellow soldier, the damage had been done and the bear inflicted multiple wounds including a scalped head. Even though chances of survival were slim, Misha did a fantastic job in operating on him that he saved his life. This impressed the visitor so much that he was able to pull a few strings and get Misha the acceptance letter to the national surgeon’s academy.

Misha was sent to serve in the Gobi Desert, in Mongolia, as the senior surgeon consultant to the Surgeon General of Mongolia where he attained the rank of Colonel. After military service in 1988, he returned to Chernivtsi, Ukraine, where he became the head surgeon in the city hospital. In the 90’s he and some of his fellow doctors traveled to multiple rural areas in Ukraine and provided free medical aid to people who otherwise could not receive it. Because of his actions, he was knighted into the Holy Order of Archangel Michael and given the title of Count. Misha still resides in Chernivtsi where he continued to performed surgeries until his 80’s.

In his spare time, Misha loves to read and go fishing. No matter what has happened, he has always kept a contagious upbeat attitude and character. Even though Misha was denied his dreams multiple times and set up for failure by constantly being sent to some of the most inhospitable places on earth, he still prevailed. Misha has 2 sons. The youngest followed in his footsteps and became a surgeon, the oldest pursued a career in engineering and eventually won a green card and moved to the United States with his wife and son.