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Robert Lim ’91, M.D., Cares for Ukrainian Citizens in War Zone

by | Mar 16, 2022

Robert Lim ‘91 deployed to combat a half-dozen times as an Army surgeon. He took his latest trip to a war zone, in Ukraine, as a civilian member of the Global Surgical and Medical Support Group. And this mission is personal, as his adopted daughter is from Ukraine. [screenshot from]


Author: Lisa Patterson

Robert Lim temporarily left his medical school professor duties, his research and his family this month to travel to a war zone. He served six combat deployments as an Army surgeon in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

But now the father of four, including a daughter from Ukraine, is volunteering his services as a civilian in that besieged country with the NGO Global Surgical and Medical Support Group (GSMSG)

Lim is completing a two-to-three week stint with the group, which brings surgical specialists from leading institutions to the places in the world where they are needed most. He sent this dispatch from Ukraine and hopes to raise awareness of the situation there, as Ukraine’s hospitals and medical personnel are targeted by Russian forces.

Where are you, and what are you doing?  ​

I cannot say where we are, other than in Ukraine. We are on a medical humanitarian mission to provide medical support to any Ukrainians who need it and to train Ukraine’s citizens on basic casualty care.  

Is this your first assignment with GSMSG? 

Yes, but I’ve advised them in several ways since 2019.

Why did you volunteer to serve in the conflict zone? 

​For two reasons: 1. Because of my military experience, I have a skillset that can help the people fleeing Ukraine and help train the citizens to care for their injured war fighters. 2. I adopted an orphan from Ukraine in 2012 and we have many friends in Ukraine. Additionally, the orphans of Ukraine are in a unique situation: if they leave Ukraine altogether, they may lose their orphan status and any adoption for them will have to start all over. If they stay in Ukraine, they may die or not be allowed to leave due to the invasion. If I can help these orphans in any way, I will try to do it. 

What are the conditions like where you are? ​

We are generally safe, but there are likely people following us and watching our activities. Additionally, we cannot move about without protection. If the war were to move further west, we would likely be in danger.​ 

Anything else you want readers to know?  ​

The people of Ukraine are amazing patriots. If they are here, they are directly supporting Ukraine’s war effort. They are learning casualty care, they are helping transport medicines and supplies, or they are helping to care for the soldiers as they prepare for war. They are very inspiring. 

In our casualty classes, we’ve taught marketers, insurance salesmen, acrobats, coaches, HR managers, as well as doctors and nurses. Each one of them asks involved questions and really wants to master the techniques we teach them. 

Traveling over here, the Polish people were very kind to the Ukrainian refugees. They met them at the border with food, water and clothes. They donated strollers and blankets. While the reason the Ukrainians and Poles have to do these things is ugly, the beauty of their human spirit is overwhelming at times. I really wish I could do more for the people of Ukraine. 

Robert Lim ’91 served as an ROTC cadet and majored in pre-medicine at Davidson. He currently serves as vice chair of education and residency and program director for the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine-Tulsa.

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