Croatia – Each story begins the same way – you live a normal life like everyone around you, you go to school, you go out, you have friends, you fall in love…University, seaside and holidays, sports. You play water polo, like me, you swim, dive, fish, ski in the winter with friends, snowboard… You enjoy the moment and don’t think too much about tomorrow, even though you have a dream that you follow, you save money and open a store with extreme sports equipment. And you’re on a roll, you work and work, but you also enjoy life… And then you start having headaches, but you think it is a migraine. After a couple of years you have eye-sight problems, and go to see an oculist who tells you that you dioptre is 0, and that you should go to see a doctor, who takes a blood sample, and finds high urea and creatinine levels. He immediately sends you to a hospital where you are instantly put on the dialysis preparation program, because your kidneys are operating with only 10 % of their capacity, and it’s only a matter of time when you’ll end up on dialysis…Your entire world suddenly comes crashing down.
But you start building it from scratch – you do not give up. Your daughter, born only one month after you start home dialysis treatment (peritoneal dialysis), gives you the strength to go on. Ten hours every night on the machine for automated peritoneal dialysis takes away a lot – but it also gives you the independence from the hospital and haemodialysis centre, and you travel, push your old life style, you go skiing, to the beach, continue to dive and swim, and even start competing for Croatia as an athlete on dialysis. You even win medals in world championships! You become active in the association of kidney patients on peritoneal dialysis, you fight the system to get the same standard of treatment that patients in Europe get. You join with the Croatian Transplant Association, and you raise awareness on the importance of organ donation, and after seven years New Life finally comes – transplantation.
Your donor didn’t only save your life, but also brought the life back to normal for all those people around you who have suffered and fought with you for years. And he helped create a new life, because your son is born three years after the transplant, a son that perhaps wouldn’t have been born if you stayed on dialysis. Your donor lives in you and through you, and his star will shine as long as yours does – and that is why it is so important to talk about transplants, about your views and considerations regarding organ donation, because it is really important and it’s the biggest decision you can make in your life. Express your attitude towards transplantation to everyone – discuss it at home, because you never know when someone’s star will start fading away fast and suddenly and if the only way for it to shine would be to join another star – just like the transplantation saved and prolonged my life, so we can be a happy family that will fill the sky with new shiny stars! And that is why this is important, why we are all important – so let’s talk about matters of such great importance.
Private photography by Jurica Ester; Jurica Ester with his family
Story prepared by: Jurica Ester (translated to English by Start Ltd.)