Since the day Rosanna Davison’s surrogate Anastasiia Berezan gave birth to her little girl Sophia, she had always wanted to give her something more than money to say thank you.
Helping her flee the invasion in Ukraine was just that.
Ms Berezan gave birth to Davison and her husband Wesley Quirke’s firstborn in 2019 in a hospital in Kyiv.
Two and a half years later, she has told Irish County Magazine she could’ve never imagined she would have to flee her home country and set up a new life in Ireland.
Ms Berezan is living in an apartment in Dublin owned by Rosanna’s parents, with her daughter Milana (5), her partner Katya, and their husky Layla.
The Irish model and her husband decided to use a gestational surrogate in Ukraine after she suffered 15 miscarriages, and although she said it was “nerve-racking” to watch a stranger carry her baby, it was the best gift she has ever received and now her and Anastasiia (Nastia) have a close bond.
“It was a quick labour and birth and I remember afterward Sophia was taken to be weighed and cleaned, and I just turned to Nastia and cried ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’.
"I just remember thinking, if there is ever anything we could do to repay her...It doesn’t feel right that we would just hand her a cheque and be on our way, it doesn’t feel personal enough.
"It’s sort of extraordinary to think back to that moment and how the story has evolved and how we find ourselves in this situation.”
Rosanna thought she would never see Nastia again, as although she agreed to carry another baby for her in January 2020, the former Miss World model incredibly discovered that spring that she was pregnant with twin boys.
However, on February 24 of this year, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, Rosanna said she was “in utter shock” and knew she had to help Nastia and her family.
“The day of the invasion I was just in utter shock and disbelief. I felt sick with worry for her,” she said.
"Wes and I turned to each other and said we have to help Nastia. What she did for us and our family, she gave us the greatest gift you can give someone and now we have to help her.”
Through the help of a translator, Nastia recalled the day the war started.
“My dad called us at 6am, it was so early we missed it but when he called again he told us to collect some things- warm clothes documents, money and to leave our apartment,” she told Irish County Magazine.
"We decided to go to Katya’s grandmother's place because she has a basement so we took some food and things and Milana, Katya, Layla and I spent the first week in her basement.
"The first week was very scary, there were a lot of explosions. We went to the market and the prices were three or four times higher than before, it was very frightening.”
Nastia and her family then decided to flee her hometown of Kherson, and their long journey to Ireland began. It wasn’t until mid-April that they managed to catch a flight to Dublin.
"When I was in Poland Rosanna said to me ‘you are welcome to Ireland, we are waiting for you here’, but we didn’t really understand how to get from Poland to Ireland plus we had a dog so the situation was complicated.”
They managed to get as far as Germany, and then Rosanna’s father Chris De Burgh put them in touch with a friend of his, who was a pilot in Germany.
"If they didn’t have Layla it would have been quite straightforward to get them onto a plane and to Dublin but it was the logistics of trying to get a husky onto a plane,” Rosanna said.
"I contacted the Department of Agriculture, we had to organise a crate for the dog, appointment with the vet- it was a big logistical challenge. Nastia was great she must have just been exhausted at this point.”
Since arriving in Ireland, Nastia’s daughter is now getting ready to start primary school in September, and her partner Katya has a job as a chef in a nearby hotel.
"I’m very grateful [to Rosanna and Wesley] for everything they have done,” Nastia said.
"I cannot even find the words to describe how it was when we arrived here. Since the first day they have helped us a lot.
"I helped them some time ago and now they are helping me. We are very lucky that we know such people as them.
"I hope we will always be friends.”
Rosanna added: “Repeatedly I’ve thought back to that day in the hospital when she gave birth to Sophia and thinking I wish I could give her something more.
"When the invasion started I said this is our way to say thank you. There was no way we couldn’t help her.”