Memoirs

 We would like to express our deepest gratitude for all the help that we have received from Dar Serca that was so crucial in our struggle for improvement of our son’s condition – write Kuba’s parents – It is only because of your financial assistance and overall care that we could come to the US with Kuba and be sure that we have compassionate and good-hearted people who will guide us through such difficult time . Kuba’s wide smile is the best expression of our eternal thankfulness. Every day we pray for our son’s health and every day we feel blessed that we could be here with him and watch him getting better and better each day. It is hard to find words to describe importance and power of such organization like Dar Serca. For us its name become a synonym of good and compassion and warmth and love that this organizations pours on children. Our words of deep appreciation go to all of its members. We thank you for a gift of heart that you all gave us and keep on giving to all children that were and are lucky to receive it .  Sincerely, Agnieszka, Wojciech & Kubuś Szymelfenig

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  Oliwia is a most recent child who came to us to have her knee/leg reshaped at Paley’s Institute. Here’s what her Mom writes: 

We are in West Palm Beach, FL. Oliwka’s first surgery, that lasted for over 5 hours, was yesterday evening. I was with her  right after and assisted her while she was transported to ICU. Now she is already in her room,  resting comfortably. Dr. Paley says that the surgery was successful and everything went the way he wanted to. He reconstructed the hip and installed steel rods that will stabilize the knee. Oliwia is very weak still and in pain that we fight with medications that also serve the purpose of prventing Oliwia to couht any infections. Both, hips and legs, are in casts.  I’m in the hospital at all the time. It’s unbelievable how wonderful care they provide here and how comfortable we can feel here. We even have our own bathroom and TV. Every other hour a nurse comes to check on Oliwia.  She doesn’t feel like eating as yet but drinks a lot and sleeps a lot. It is a very stressful and emotional time for all of us but looks like everything is going the right way. Dr. Paley is happy so I’m happy too. We just have to take it easy and take one day a time.  The most important thing is that we are here, under the best care I could dream of for my child and so happy and grateful for that. Thank you Polonia for giving us, through Dar Serca, this wonderful opportunity, for your help and support! – ever grateful Mom

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In September Paulina underwent SDR procedure at Childrens’ Hospital in St. Louis, MO; everything went very well and on October 9th Paulina left to Poland leaving us with this thank you letter.

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This letter came from Pawel who used to be under Dar Serca care and now, as an adult, he would like to share his story with us.  So,  here it is:

I hate making people feel sorry for me. I hate pity and these sad eyes of people when they listen to my life story. Fortunately, taking into consideration how I feel and what I do now, we all know that is a story with a happy ending. The Gift from the Heart Foundation has its key role in this remarkable tale, which I want to shortly present to YOU! Directly after my birth I was infected by the “golden staph“ (Staphylococcus aureus) which immediately attacked my body. Indeed, I was supposed to die or “if I have loads of luck” to live but to sit all my life on a wheelchair. My mom, after asking about the possible “forecasts” was often told to go to church and pray or to go to a fortune-teller. But here I am: Pawel who walks (or even runs), talks, is accepted (and probably liked) by his peers and has the courage to study abroad and take the best of life that he can. Was my path difficult? Indeed, but thanks Gift from the Heart Foundation (which my parents contacted after they became almost hopeless because of many influential and well-know Polish professors) I am able to pursue my dreams as an (almost) healthy young fellow. I was operated on right knee, left hip (twice) and my spine (I have two metal rods holding it straight). As far as I am concerned, I was six times (incl. twice eleven months and once seven months) in the USA and felt always embraced and supported by the Foundation. The flat were we could live, the marvelous people that surrounded me and my mom or even – what is important to a child – the picnics or trips around Chicago – all of this made me feel less pain (and I have to tell you, it is not easy or painless to learn how to walk when someone put metal rods in your back ;-) ) and, thus, my mom happier. It is worth underlining that the support given to parents is not less important than the medical treatment of the children as a sad mom or dad makes the child more suspicious that not everything is as it should be. As I do not want you to feel pity I will not explain to you what was cut or how much time I spent in the hospital. Neither will I attach photos of me on the hospital bed. It is not the issue for you to feel sorry… The crucial thing here is that thanks to the Gift from the Heart Foundation I have the possibility to say – I am a “normal” person who would like to work as a diplomat in the future. I study and I teach too. I became mature really quickly as I had to cope with more problems than my peers. Because of my self-confidence and ability to solve my problems people do not ask me what happen nor does anything hurt but rather what is my view on the perspectives of political transitions inEastern Europe. And this is another thing I learnt in the Foundation – never treat yourself as if you were sick, you simply have few more challenges to overcome but we will help you in following your dream. They did what they promised. Now it is my role to pursue my dreams. I hope that with your support dreams of other children will come true! Thank you in advance  –  Pawel

 This is Pawel during one of his visit at Dar Serca

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 Agnieszka’s surgery is over. To my surprise she doesn’t want to sleep and wants to play and go back home… But she must stay in the bed ’till Friday. The surgery lasted 4 hours and everything went well. The conditions and care here are very good, all the staff is very friendly. We are so thankful to Ewa for all the time and care she gave us during this such a difficult hours.Our warmest regards to all at Dar Serca.   - Izabela & Piotr Pochanke – Agnieszka’s parents 

Jakub’s surgery is over. It ended 4 hours ago. Everything went as planned. He is still asleep and in stable condition. It makes me little bit worry that he is not awake but doctors assured me that this is normal and that’s what he needs now.  I’m staying with Jakub, I have my own room with bathroom. My bed is placed right next to his bed. It amazes me how comfortable I can feel here. The hospital looks more like an art gallery than a hospital. I never imagined that I could actually like any hospital but here I am, amazed by all the surroundings. It is completely opposite that I’m used to. What left now is just pray  for Jakub’s speedy recovery. Ewa (Dyk) is with us all the time, what a wonderful person she is! I’m so grateful for everything. Thank you all,  Justyna Pek

  Theo was born on January 21, 2010 and underwent his first surgery before he was two day-old. He looks little bit different than other kids and this is the reason he’s under watchful care of various specialists such as pediatrician-surgeons, vascular disease specialists and plastic surgeons. He must be seen by optometrists, dermatologists and oncologists to name the few. Since the day he was born, Theo underwent 13 surgeries already and it is still a work in progress. Coming toChicagowas a necessary step in improving Theo’s condition and we could get here only because the Gift from the Heart Foundation/Dar Serca. For us – parents of children with severe health problem to come toAmericaon our own was absolutely impossible. So, it was truly a blessing that we could rely on GFHF to get assistance with organizing the hospital visits, transportation and translation services, financial support as well as to have a very comfortable, spacious and children – oriented place to stay. We could even use a van to move around on our own if we needed. We would like to express our deepest appreciation for all the help we got to the staff, volunteers and sponsors, patrons and friends of the Gift from the Heart Foundation/Dar Serca. From the bottom of our hearts we thank you.  Monika & Wiktor Naturski  You can ffollow Teo’s story at  www.naturscy.pl/teo  and like him on facebook  www.facebook.com/teo.naturski

David is in the operating room. I still can hear him saying “Please Mom, don’t cry” and see his smiling face. “Sure thing I won’t cry”, I told him. It is pretty amusing that this 8 year-old young man, my son, is asking me to stay calm during these difficult hours when the surgery he needed so badly, is performed. These few words and his beautiful smile assured me that everything is going to be OK. Thank you, David. I love you so much. It was still hard to comprehend that we actually were here, inAmerica, where a chance for a cure for children with cerebral palsy is a real thing. Only in theUnited States they can perform this kind of procedures which are not available or successful anywhere else in the world. I couldn’t believe our luck when David was accepted for the surgery which could lift him from a wheelchair and make him walk on his own. As scary as it was for us to come toAmerica where we don’t know anybody and cannot communicate in English, it was equally wonderful to find out about the Gift from the Heart Foundation – this wonderful place where we could stay and be taken care of. It was such a reassuring and a wonderful feeling.

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