The  Kovalenko family live  in a wooden house in the village of Steshchino within 30 of Chernobyl zone.

Maryna Kovalenko moved here with her two daughters Olena and Iryna when they were escaping from the war in eastern Ukraine.

17-year-old Olena has had a kidney problem since she was a small child. However, she never experienced any pain or discomfort for a long time. The girl lived an ordinary life: she went to school, played with friends, helped their Mom around the house and dreamed about a good future.

One day, the disease took over her life. It happened in 2016.

My friends and I played near my house doing some sports. I leaned over, sat down and felt sudden acute pain in my back. It seemed as if I had fallen on my back from somewhere really high. My legs felt numb and I could not get up. I was helpless and desperate. One of my friends went running to get my Mom. My Mom came and took me home”, Olena recalls.

Olena’s initial problem (bladder-ureter reflux, resulting in inflammation and infection) spread to the right kidney, causing periodic relapse of acute pyelonephritis and cicatricial changes. After that day, the girl become a frequent guest in hospitals.Olena was prescribed medication but the medicines stopped working after a short period of time. She needed to have some other treatment.  Olena’s mother Marina knew that she had to take the girl to Kyiv to consult experienced doctors but she didn’t know how to find them and, most importantly, she couldn’t afford a trip to the capital. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to pay for expensive medical exams and treatment because the only family’s income was allowance from government amounting to about $120 per month.

Thankfully, God took care of the child. CBN-Emmanuel heard the girl’s story and arranged everything for Olena’s visit to Kyiv and her treatment in the framework of its medical project implemented in cooperation with “Pope for Ukraine” Initiative.

In Kyiv, the Olena had a chance to be examined by the doctors of Kyiv Institute of Urology. They immediately found that the girl needed an urgent surgical intervention in a specialized children’s urology department. Without this kidney correction surgery, according to the doctors, Olena was at risk of gaining a disability by the age of 18.

On November 5, Olena had an endoscopic surgery at the Kyiv City Children’s Clinical Hospital No. 1. An implant was installed to save her kidney. The surgery was successful and Olena was discharged from the hospital the following day.

The doctor said that I could go back to school and soon I would be able to do sports too. I don’t feel any pain and I feel really good now. Soon, I’ll start helping my mother with the household chores again”, Olena says.

Now that the surgery is done and Olena’s body is restoring, she will be able to live a normal life and won’t be at risk of gaining a disability. 


Olena’s family is thankful to CBN-Emmanuel and “Pope for Ukraine” Initiative for giving Olena a chance to live a normal life and be healthy!

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