26 październik 2021 /FP | Family News Service
Iwona Olszewska-Król was 23 years old when she was diagnosed with chronic renal failure. The disease had weakened her body so much that a transplant was necessary. “I was surrounded by people who offered to help me. My sister wanted to donate a kidney to me, my two cousins, and my husband,” she told Family News Service in an interview. In the end, a 23-year-old man who had died became the donor, and it was he who gave Iwona a new life.
The kidney disease appeared suddenly, and it was determined by chance. That was 23 years ago, during a summer vacation. Iwona decided to go on a walking pilgrimage, and nothing indicated that she was ill and that it was so serious. “My kidneys never hurt, and I found out about the chronic inflammation right after the tests,” says the 44-year-old woman.
“I never lost my faith”
There were concrete life plans before her: graduation in the field of study she had dreamed of, going on missions, and starting her own family. Yet, the worst was to come. The disease progressed slowly, and it took 20 years before it became active for good. “I can only be grateful to God for being with me all the time. There are people who end up in the hospital at a critical time,” she explains to Family News Service.
In some cases, kidney failure is treatable but, in her case, there was no chance of that. Iwona had the choice of long-term dialysis or an organ transplant.
After the diagnosis, she could not hold back her tears and looked to God for support. “I never lost my faith. I kept asking myself why I should be sick. There were many doubts,” she stresses recalling that time. Iwona was sent to a hospital and a series of tests began. “I was waiting for a miracle, I took the rosary in my hand, I prayed, and read the Holy Bible,” she says.
“Doctor, I want to have children”
The woman had always dreamed of having children. She perfectly sensed that she had difficult months, and probably years, ahead of her. The doctors disapproved of her aspirations. She was getting weaker every day, but she did not want to give up her job. “It gave me strength,” she says. Iwona gave birth to two children, now her son is 13 and her daughter is 11. She fulfilled one of her dreams which the cruel disease wanted to take away forever.
The vision of the future did not fill her with optimism. Long-lasting dialysis, connection to a device that was supposed to purify her blood and keep her alive. Yet, she did not give up.
A banana could have killed her
The family learned to live with her illness, daily life was governed by constant examinations and a special diet. It got to the point where eating a banana, a fruit she loved so much, could have killed her.
She was tired, swollen, unable to eat or drink much, her body was changing, and she found it difficult to accept these changes. Finally, the doctors informed her that a transplant was her only salvation. The ideal donor was her beloved husband. The man did not hesitate even for a moment. From the beginning, he declared that if he could help his wife, he certainly would. Two cousins and a sister also offered their kidneys.
Iwona decided for a pre-emptive transplantation; this solution gave her a chance to have the organ transplanted before she needed dialysis and to recover quickly.
A deceased 23-year-old man gave her a gift
She and her husband had a perfect match, all parameters matched, both were prepared for the operation, but it was cancelled! The pandemic had broken out. The doctors explained that they wanted to spare them the stay in the hospital and the waiting for the procedure at such a challenging time. They waited for another date. And the news that Iwona had been waiting for so intensely came: “There’s a donor!”
“I received a kidney from a 23-year-old man, I do not know under what circumstances he died,” explains the 44-year-old woman.
Some people wait for a transplant for three years or even longer. Iwona got a kidney after two months. She admits that she sometimes thinks about the man who gave her a new life. Iwona takes medication, lives with diabetes, but nevertheless has the organ which is a gift for her. The kidney works well, the test results are also normal. A few weeks after the operation, she returned to work.
A miracle asked for through the Intercession of a Polish missionary
In an interview with Family News Service, Iwona Olszewska-Król says she has a disability that is not visible. She does not lack optimism. She works for Polish transplantology, participates in webinars and conferences, willingly helps others, answers their questions, shares her knowledge and experience. She is a happy wife and a fulfilled mother. “The disease has shown us all that different life situations can happen, and unforeseen circumstances can happen to anyone. What is needed is a bit of empathy and patience.”
She says she prayed for the transplant through the intercession of Dr. Wanda Blenski. On 18 October 2020, in the cathedral in Poznan, Ostrów Tumski, Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki inaugurated her beatification process at the diocesan level. A few days later, she got a call from the hospital: the desired kidney was already waiting for her.
On 30 October 2020, at 1 p.m., Iwona was discharged from the hospital. Only at home did she realize that it was the Polish missionary’s birthday. “Goodness really returns,” says Mrs. Olszewska-Król.
The woman lives her life to the fullest, together with her children she prepared a fair, the income from which was assigned to support the mission.
Two days ago, she visited the grave of Dr. Wanda Blenski; her friend accompanied her on this journey into the past. It was supposed to be cold that day, but it was beautiful. “I looked at the blue sky, I felt as if I had come to a person close to me, just like that, to have coffee,” says Iwona. A year ago, a blue sky likewise accompanied her when she left the hospital, as she began a completely new chapter of her life.
Family News Service