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The pregnant woman from the iconic Mariupol photo has died. Many more are at risk

First responders and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Wednesday. The woman and her baby have since died.
Evgeniy Maloletka
First responders and volunteers carry an injured pregnant woman from a maternity hospital that was damaged by shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Wednesday. The woman and her baby have since died.

After Russian forces shelled a maternity hospital in Mariupol last week, images of the destroyed building and distraught evacuees made headlines around the world.

One particularly memorable photo shows a pregnant woman lying bloodied on a stretcher, being carried through the bombed-out courtyard by several first responders. The scene, seen as embodying Russia's aggression toward innocent civilians, was shared widely.

The woman and her baby have since died, the Associated Press reported on Monday.

The unidentified woman suffered a crushed pelvis and detached hip in Wednesday's attack and was rushed to another hospital on the front lines.

"Realizing she was losing her baby, medics said, she cried out to them, 'Kill me now!' " the AP reports.

Surgeon Timur Marin told the AP that medics delivered the baby via cesarean section but saw "no signs of life." They were unable to save the mother's life after more than 30 minutes of resuscitation efforts, he added.

Medics said that at least the woman's husband and father came to retrieve her body, so that she would not end up in one of the city's mass graves.

Ukrainian officials said last week that three people — including a child — died in the maternity hospital attack, and 17 others were injured.

Another pregnant woman, famously photographed descending the ruins of a staircase with cuts on her face and wearing a pair of pajamas, gave birth to a daughter on Friday.

Ukraine's healthcare system is seriously strained

More than 4,300 births have occurred in Ukraine since Russia first invaded less than three weeks ago, and 80,000 Ukrainian women are expected to give birth in the next three months, according to a joint statement from UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the U.N. Population Fund.

The groups said on Sunday that oxygen and medical supplies — including those for managing pregnancy complications — are running "dangerously low."

The high-profile assault on Mariupol's hospital is far from the only one of its kind, with the World Health Organization documenting 31 attacks on health care since Russia's invasion. They have killed and injured civilians, destroyed facilities and ambulances and disrupted access to essential services, the groups said.

They called for an immediate end to all attacks on health care in Ukraine, describing attacks on vulnerable patients and dedicated healthcare workers "an act of unconscionable cruelty."

"The health care system in Ukraine is clearly under significant strain, and its collapse would be a catastrophe," the officials wrote. "Every effort must be made to prevent this from happening ... International humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld, and the protection of civilians must be our top priority."

The U.N. says some 596 civilians were killed and 1,067 injured between Feb. 24 and Saturday, though it believes the actual figures are much higher. As of Saturday morning, 85 children had been killed and more than 100 injured.

This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.

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