Mykhaylo Bielov, 31, a soldier with Ukraine’s national guard, was defending the eastern city of Bakhmut on Dec. 31, 2022, when a Russian grenade exploded above his head.

“I remember a white light and how it went out,” he said. “I remember putting out the fire on my uniform and spitting out my tooth.”

Emergency surgery at Mechnikov Hospital saved his life. He spent a month in a coma. His recovery will take years.

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