Lifestyle & Human Interest

Stranded Twin Babies in Ukraine Finally Evacuated After American Parents Panic


Most joyfully expectant parents are ecstatic when their babies arrive in the world, and it’s a time of awe and celebration. For Alex Spektor and Irma Nuñez, it was joy mixed with terror and heartbreak.

That’s because though Spektor’s family hails from Kyiv, both he and Nuñez live in Chicago, and their surrogate, Katya, was in Ukraine. Their twin baby boys were born prematurely as war broke out in the distant country, and the problems only escalated from there.

Not only were Moishe and Lenny born in Kyiv, they needed special formula and expert care because of their condition. That alone would be enough for most new parents to deal with, but the conflict between Ukraine and Russia meant that the babies were doubly in danger and there was no easy way to get them out of harm’s way — even moving them to another location posed potential life-threatening complications.

A GoFundMe was started for the boys’ rescue. Their parents pleaded for help getting the two boys and their biological mother out of the area and to safer ground. Their story went around the world.


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And then Project Dynamo stepped in.

Project Dynamo, run by a veteran of the U.S. Army and Navy named Bryan Stern, is a specialist extraction team that helps American citizens escape war zones, according to NPR.

The group’s Facebook page says the team is made up of “veterans and civilians, committed to the evacuation of Americans.” The group agreed to help the two twins, and Operation Gemini was born.

Earlier this week, Stern and his team of veterans, doctors, nurses and a Ukrainian ambulance crew was waiting outside the hospital in Kyiv. Russian attacks, a snowstorm and a border crossing stood between them and Spektor, who was anxiously waiting in Poland to whisk his sons to safety.

A while after the operation began, Spektor heard the good news: “We picked up baby Lenny and baby Moishe.”

“[The Russians] were shelling something else, but it was close enough that the ground was shaking,” Stern said. “I mean, the artillery doesn’t care what it is — it’s gonna land where it lands. The artillery doesn’t say like, ‘Oh, well, there’s babies here, so we’ll go somewhere else.’

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“If dust gets in the room, they’re in trouble. If the power goes out in the room, they’re in trouble. If there’s a whole bunch of shot-up troops and the doctors get spread thin, then they’re going to be in trouble. So the bottom line is getting out of Kyiv.”

“They’ve been on the road for about six hours, and they have five more hours after that,” Spektor said. “They will be put into the NICU immediately. We don’t want to slow down that process.”

A few hours later, another update from Stern: Katya was safe with them, Spektor was ready at the border.

And then, silence. For hours. More than 12 hours after the operation began, they’re nearly safe.

Finally, the message everyone’s waiting for from Stern: “We are at the border. My blood pressure will finally be able to go back to normal once we get rid of this precious cargo.”

The twins were rushed to a hospital in Rzeszow, Poland, and Stern and his team were able to briefly bask in their success before preparing to launch another operation.

“Honored the Project Dynamo team was given the opportunity to help the Spektor family with rescuing their twin premature sons, Lenny and Moishe,” the Project Dynamo Facebook page shared on Wednesday. “Every seat filled on each of our missions, has a story, a family, and is equally important, but pulling this mission off was such a rewarding experience.”

The new parents are relieved their boys are finally out of immediate danger and look forward to beginning their lives together, thanks to the dedication of family, friends, strangers and the Dynamo team.

“The war didn’t want to let them go,” the proud father said of his boys. “But we got them out.”

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