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Ukrainian teen arrives in San Diego after losing his leg during the war

Through a translator, 16-year-old Ivan Chaban said, "I want to start living as a normal person."

SAN DIEGO — A Ukrainian teenager who lost his leg during the war is getting medical care in San Diego.

16-year-old Ivan Chaban arrived two weeks ago.

Every day since, he’s had appointments at Peter Harsch Prosthetics in Mira Mesa, where he’s getting fitted for a new leg.

Through a translator, Ivan told CBS 8 he doesn't want to disclose too many details about the incident that brought him here.

Here's what he did share.

In March, he and his family were walking to get groceries in the northeastern part of Ukraine when he says a Russian tank left its convoy and intentionally ran over them.

His mom was knocked to the ground and suffered a head injury.

His stepdad was killed.

Ivan lost his right leg.

Thanks to private sponsors, the House of Ukraine, and the Right to Walk Foundation, Ivan was brought to San Diego for a prosthetic leg, free of charge.

His visit comes after two other Ukrainian amputees flew to San Diego under similar circumstances.

Natilia and her 11-year-old daughter were injured during a bomb strike at a train station in Eastern Ukraine back in April.

"It's even more heartbreaking because I have young children. I have an 11-year-old," said Harsch who founded Peter Harsch Prosthetics.

Harsch says Natilia and her daughter were the first Ukrainians to visit the United States solely for prosthetic care.

He was connected to them, as well as Ivan, through the work he's done helping Republic of Georgia soldiers who were injured in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But, unlike soldiers who are treated with prosthetics, Ukrainian civilians that he's seen have much more complicated cases.

"They're getting blown up, but they're not thinking about prosthetic care. They're thinking about saving their lives so what we're seeing with blast wounds in Ukraine is they have very sharp bones, other bones are longer than others. It's like razor blades inside their limbs," said Harsch.

Harsch says it takes time to not only get a properly fitting prosthetic but learn to walk on it.

He estimates Ivan and his guardian will be here for at least four months.

They have temporary housing but are in need of something more permanent.

They also need people who can help drive them to and from daily appointments.

And, if possible, Ivan would like an English tutor, saying he wants to learn our language before going back to Ukraine where his mom and siblings are, and where he hopes, at some point, a normal life awaits.

To help Ivan or provide assistance to others who may need it, contact the House of Ukraine.

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