Real Life Story of Lyudmilla Ignatenko from 'Chernobyl' Who Lost Her Husband and Child
HBO's 'Chernobyl' shook the world in a way no other series has done. Take a glimpse into the story of Lyudmilla Ignatenko, whose husband was one of the first firefighters at the power plant when it exploded.
The five-part mini-series was based on the true story of the worst nuclear disaster in history, which occurred at the Chernobyl Power Plant.
The production gives insight into the details of the explosion. If you ever wondered about the real-life story of some characters on "Chernobyl," here is the true story of Lyudmilla Ignatenko.
#NowWatching the first episode of CHERNOBYL (2019, HBO).It’s first line: “What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.” pic.twitter.com/S8VAHl154I— Daniel McFadin (@danielmcfadin) January 12, 2021
THE NUCLEAR DISASTER
Filmed in Vilnius, Lithuania, HBO's 'Chernobyl' miniseries shed light on the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster, one of the worst human-made disasters in our history.
On April 26, 1986, the Soviet Union's Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine exploded. After the reactor exploded, Soviet authorities were quick to blame human error.
The man overseeing the nuclear plant was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor. Afterward, it was discovered that design flaws were what caused the meltdown.
Days after the horrifying tragedy, over 30 people died from acute radiation, with 4,000 more dying of cancer-related health problems later on.
According to experts, the surrounding area won't be habitable for humans for at least 20,000 years. Regardless, Chernobyl, surprisingly, has a thriving tourist business.
In the HBO mini-series, 'The Crown's' George VI, Jared Harris plays Valery Legasov. Valery was a real-life Soviet scientist who was chief of the commission investigating the nuclear disaster.
Legasov was the first person in the response team to grasp the Chernobyl disaster's scope, and he was Lyudmilla Ignatenko's husband.
The miniseries showed Lyudmilla's harrowing experience when her husband was reduced to nothing by the disaster and how her child passed away four days after her birth.
However, many do not know that Lyudmilla's life story was way worse than what was portrayed on screen. Lyudmilla and Vasily met as teenagers in 1979 and married in 1983.
They were living in the "nuclear city" of Pripyat, near the Ukraine-Belarus border, when he was called to the explosion site.
The nuclear plant fire was believed to be a fire like any other. And when Lyudmilla arrived at the hospital to see her husband two days later at the hospital to see her husband, the 25-year-old was unrecognizable.
After the nuclear plant explosion on April 26, 1986, she visited her husband every day at the hospital in Moscow. Gradually, the radiation was burning Vasily's body, and his condition just worsened.
As a result of the plant's radiation when attending the emergency without the appropriate safety equipment, Vasily died on May 18, 1986.
Vasily's body was placed in a metal coffin and buried, but even after death, it contained the highest radiation levels. While visiting her husband, Lyudmilla never protected herself from that radiation.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF LOVE
During the Chernobyl events, Lyudmilla was pregnant with her first child, and the effects of being exposed to her husband’s radiation levels unfailingly affected the unborn baby.
She attended the hospital daily to take care of him and told those days that he was a different man every day. Lyudmilla put her own life and her unborn baby’s life at risk by staying close to her beloved husband while he was dying.
She constantly ignored the nurses' and doctors' warnings, who told her that she shouldn't pass the protective plastic that surrounded her husband, and she lied to them about being pregnant.
She was only 23 years old when she became a widow. Two weeks after the death of her husband, while visiting his grave, Lyudmilla went into labor.
Sadly, her baby died four hours after being born from cirrhosis and heart complications. The baby's name, Natasha, was chosen by her father before he died. Natasha was buried next to her father in a concrete grave.
Jessie Buckley, who plays Ignatenko, opened up about how difficult it truly was to immerse herself into Lyudmila's character.
Buckley told The Independent that she never got the chance to meet Ignatenko, so she resorted to watching documentaries about the disaster, featuring Lyudmila, to prepare to play her, adding:
"There was always something about her neck, where it was like she was being choked by grief. I don't know what I would have said to her."
LIFE GOES ON
Lyudmilla now lives away from all publicity in Kyiv, Ukraine, with her son. During the years following Chernobyl, she suffered multiple attacks on her health, while the radiation damage left her unable to have children.
The only way she could withstand what happened was because of how quickly it was. In just fourteen days, people affected by the radiation syndrome died in terrible pain. And two weeks later, her little baby also died.
CHERNOBYL'S AFFECT ON US TODAY
Although it happened decades ago, Chernobyl's consequences are still felt today. The effects of radiation still linger and are felt both in Ukraine and Belarus.
In fact, Ukraine completed the construction of a structure that will contain the radioactive reactor for 100 more years. Some wild animals still live in the area, and the area won't be habitable for many years.
In just one night, Lyudmilla lost everything she ever loved. Sadly, a woman had to ensure so much loss because of human error.
We hope she had the fortitude to bear the loss. Were you particularly touched by Lyudmilla's story? Share this article with a loved one today!