Three decades on from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the effects of the catastrophic accident still live on.
Since the events of the early morning hours of April 26, 1986, it’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of children have been born with severe mental and physical disabilities and general abnormalities as a result of the nuclear disaster.
In the Ukraine alone, there was a 200 per cent increase in birth defects and a 250 per cent increase in birth deformities in children born in the Chernobyl fallout area.
These children have a range of disabilities and illnesses – respiratory, eye diseases, blood diseases, digestive, musculoskeletal, cancer, congenital malformations and genetic abnormalities. But among these children, one thing is common – they were born after the Chernobyl accident.
The real story behind HBO’s Chernobyl. Post continues after podcast.
On March 3, 1987, almost a year after the Chernobyl disaster, Igor Pavlovets was born in a hospital in Belarus.
The young boy’s mother, who lived in a village near the power plant, was sick with radiation poisoning when she discovered she had fallen pregnant. As a direct result, Igor was born missing his right arm with stunted legs and turned out feet.
Almost immediately after he was born, Igor was forcibly taken from his parents and placed in Orphanage 1 in Minsk, Belarus.
Up until he was six years old, Igor lived his life in institutions with minimal socialisation. But when businessman Victor Mizzi visited Orphanage 1, Igor’s life changed forever.
Over the course of his life, Victor Mizzi helped 56,000 child victims of Chernobyl. Igor Pavlovets was just one of them.
In 1992, Victor met the six-year-old in the Belarus orphanage when the young boy handed him a piece of bread. At the time, Igor was just the size of a three-year-old and living in a metal cot in a room full of much younger children. But nevertheless, he was a happy, beaming child with a dream of one day getting another arm.