Humanitarian Aid for Ukrainian Refugees

Cancer Care Program for Ukrainian refugees (2022-present), over $500,000.

When the Russo-Ukrainian war broke out, BHF partnered with academic and private institutions in Eastern Europe to secure continuity of care and reduce preventable cancer deaths for Ukrainian refugees. Spearheaded by radiation oncologist Dr. Horia Vulpe, BHF’s Cancer Care Program provides financial, logistical and emotional assistance for Ukrainian cancer patients whose care has been jeopardized by the war.

Our program assists patients who are unable to receive treatment in Ukraine due to failing healthcare infrastructure, those in Moldova who are ineligible for free health insurance and therefore face high out-of-pocket costs, and patients in Romania who have difficulty accessing and navigating the medical system. As of July 2023, our physicians evaluated over 200 cases and provided assistance to 160 cancer patients, including dozens of evacuations out of Ukraine. We are the largest cancer-focused NGO working in the region. Our program generated international interest, and two articles were published in the European Journal of Cancer, May 2023 and Lancet Oncology, November, 2023.

Empower Oncology Program

This initiative provides medical education and research in Moldova, focusing on modernizing medical school curriculum, training and on-going education for medical residents and doctors in the area of radiology and radiation oncology in Moldova and Ukraine (2022- present).

Underfunded cancer systems in developing countries can struggle to provide modern cancer therapies, working in relative isolation from the international medical community due to language barriers and a lack of interprofessional exchange. This environment presents a significant barrier to modernization, innovation, and medical research.

BHF’s educational and research program developed in partnership with the Institute of Oncology in Chisinau, Moldova, has launched several initiatives to modernize medical training and clinical practice in oncology. With the help of BHF’s network of Romanian-speaking physicians, Moldova is now designing its first dedicated training programs in radiation and medical oncology. We are also undertaking research projects to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with complex tumors of the head and neck, a type of cancer that is found in high prevalence in the country. These longitudinal partnerships will help improve the quality of care for all Moldovans in the future.


Horia Vulpe M.D – Director, Cancer Care Program

Dr. Vulpe spent his early childhood in Romania before moving to Canada, where he completed studies in medicine and residency training in radiation oncology. Dr. Vulpe practiced at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, at Columbia University in New York, and at the Queen’s Cancer Center in Honolulu, where he was also director of quality and patient safety.

With the onset of the war, Dr. Vulpe relocated to Europe to better help displaced Ukrainians in Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, get the quality cancer care they deserve. He manages an international team of coordinators, translators, and partner clinics that operate for the benefit of Ukrainian cancer patients. Dr. Vulpe is also an advisor to the director of the Institute of Oncology in Chisinau, Moldova, collaborating on research, education, and quality improvement.

For his work in global oncology, Dr. Vulpe was awarded the ASCO Global Oncology Young Investigator Award, the McGill Medicine Young Alumnus Award, and the Robert Sheppard Award for Health Equity and Social Justice. Dr. Vulpe enjoys teaching residents and medical students and received the ‘2019 Educator of the Year’ award from the American Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology. He remains affiliated with the Queen’s Cancer Center as a part time radiation oncologist and patient safety officer.


Irena Tocino M.D. – Medical Program Director

Yale professor, Dr. Irena Tocino is taking a sabbatical to coordinate Blue Heron’s Medical Program in Romania (Suceava & Iasi) starting April 7th . Her years of administration experience as Vice chair, leading teams, creating solutions and responding to challenges within the health care system will be invaluable on the field;

“It is difficult, as a doctor, to watch so much human suffering and not to be able to help. I really wanted to make myself useful and thought of the incredible work Blue Heron has done for years. I contacted Stefania Magidson and learned that BH has been able to quickly redirect funding efforts, infrastructure and volunteers to meet the urgent needs of refugees and hospitals. I immediately offered my experience and resources to help BH on the ground with coordination, assessing needs, both acute and long term for the millions affected by this devastating and senseless war.”

Irena Tocino MD, FACR
Department of Radiology, Yale School of Medicine

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