tisdag 8 mars 2016

It's like I've been born again

Ioana who is a mother of three children travelled from Romania to Sweden in early 2014 in a desperate attempt to earn the extra money that was needed for her children's education. She tried to get a job but soon she ended up on the streets of Stockholm were she begged for money from bypassers. During her stay Ioana became seriously ill and had to seek medical attention.

A good friend of her took her to a hospital where she underwent a number of tests to determine the cause of the disease. A doctor at the hospital informed her that she suffered from Hepatitis C and had a long time cirrhosis. The doctor gave her one or two years to live if she did not get a liver transplant. He prescribed medications to Ioana and advised her to go home to her family and spend her last days of life with them. Because she is a EU-citizen she had to go back to Romania to do the liver transplant.

Health care is free in Romania but the country has problems with corruption. In order to get the care you need you must either have the right contacts or give bribes. Those who have no contacts or money may choose to get poor care or no care at all. Ioana and her husband Vasile did not have the money that they needed to get medications or a liver transplant and her prospects was bleak.

Many Swedes were engaged in Ioanas situation after her story had been aired on ABC News in early 2014. They started to raise money for the benefit of her medications and liver transplantation. The Swedish NGO Heart to Heart was asked if they could set up a account and transfer the money to Ioana. They decided to transfer the collected money to Ioana without charging any fee.

A female reporter from ABC News and her team fought for Ioanas right to get a liver transplant. And thanks to all the media attention they created in both Sweden and Romania about Ioana she was finally included on the waiting list for a liver transplantation at a specialist clinic in Bukarest. After she undervent the transplantation a number of donors continued to give money to her so she could buy the expensive antiretroviral drugs she needed to survive until the surgery.

I met Ioana who is a very kind and gentle woman in her small house in a Romanian village in the middle on Romania in september 2014. She was very thankful to all the people in Sweden who had been engaged in her situation and helped her with their money and prayers. But she was also very worried about the future. Ioanas mother died when she was a young girl and she didn't want her own children to grow up without the love and support from their mother.
- I want to live as long as I can get to see my children grow up to be big. My mother died when I was small and I do not want my children to have to grow up without their mother, she said to me with tears in her voice.

A couple of weeks after I met Ioana, she received the good news that the vaiting was over and that she should get a liver transplant at a clinic in Bucarest. She received the transplantation at the clinic on november 4. After a couple of weeks of convalescence at the clinic she was healthy enough to go home to her husband Vasile and their three children Bianca, Adrian and Sebastian.

Ioana are doing well after the liver transplant but she have to continue to take retroviral drugs for the rest of her life, otherwise her body will reject the new liver.
- If it hadn't been for all the good-hearted people in Sweden I might have been dead. It feels like I've been born again since I got my new liver. I'm very grateful to everyone who has helped and supported me and who have been involved in giving me a new life.


Read more about Heart to Hearts Team Roma-project in the following link: http://english.hearttoheart.se/the-team-roma-project-2/

Text and photo: Mikael Good

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