Update: A rescue team made up of U.S. Army veterans have been tasked with rescuing premature twins Lenny and Moishe and bringing them safely to Poland, where they will reunite with their father, Alex Spektor. The twins will travel approximately 11 hours before arriving at a local hospital.
"They will be put into the NICU immediately," Spektor tells NPR. "We don't want to slow down that process."
The twins were too small to move in the days after they were born amid the Russian invasion. Spektor, who was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and his partner, Irma Nuñez, now reside in Chicago. They chose a Ukrainian surrogate to carry their twins, and have been avidly watching the news and waiting for information about their babies from sources on the ground in Ukraine.
Bryan Stern, who is heading up the rescue team, is part of a nonprofit specialist extraction team made up of U.S. Army and Navy veterans. The team, called Project Dynamo, enters war zones to rescue those trying to escape. The mission for rescuing little Lenny and Moishe is aptly called "Operation Gemini."
The rescue team also includes two doctors, two neonatal specialists, a nurse and a Ukrainian ambulance crew.
"We picked up baby Lenny and baby Moishe," Stern told NPR as of Tuesday afternoon.
Hopefully, the boys will be able to safely receive the care they need in Poland before returning home with their mom and dad to the U.S.
The original story, published March 1, 2022, can be read below.
Alex Spektor and his partner, Irma Nuñez, became parents of newborn twins last week. Unfortunately, their exciting news is overshadowed by the fact that the babies were born to a surrogate in Ukraine at the beginning of the Russian invasion.
The surrogate had endured weeks of health complications toward the end of her pregnancy, and both are struggling with health issues due to their prematurity. And now Spektor and Nuñez are overwhelmed with the news coming out of Ukraine as Russian forces occupy Kyiv, where the twins were born.
“It’s unimaginable, what can I say? It’s impossible to wrap your mind around,” Spektor told TODAY.
The couple is currently looking for a hospital with a basement bomb shelter while also weighing various options to get them out of the country safely. Because the twins, whom the couple named Lenny and Moishe, are premature, there are added layers of complications to their retrieval. Moishe is suffering from breathing problems, and finding the type of milk preemies need is proving difficult.
“The fact that they’re premature plays against us,” Spektor said. “So there’s a conflict. They need to stay put. We need to take them out.”
Trying to make parenting decisions for their newborn sons from halfway across the world would be incredibly stressful during normal circumstances—the wartorn status of Ukraine and the city of Kyiv makes things unimaginably difficult.
“I talked to this pharmacy in the morning. By afternoon, when one of our contacts got there, it was already shelled and it was closed,” Spektor said.
The Washington Post reports that Spektor and Nuñez are facing similar struggles that many adoptive families and other surrogate families are facing—how to bring their children home. Ukrainian embassies have shuttered, military vehicles are causing massive roadway blockage, and ambulances have been diverted to help those in the direct line of harm as Russians launch airstrikes and missiles.
“They don’t want them to make the journey now without IV solution, proper care, whatever they need to have if a situation comes up,” Nuñez said.
The couple hopes to get the twins moved safely to Poland or another nearby stable city, but that trip would require medical transport.
"We’re in a position where we need to help not only our babies, but other babies,” Nuñez said. She added that they are grateful for the support from their surrogacy agency and the medical teams working to help their babies. “We know they’re in danger, too.”
If you're looking for ways you can help Ukrainian families, you can read Motherly's guide here.