Mark Goralski died in 2018 at age 57 from complications due to Crohn’s disease. He was in need of a kidney transplant, but his doctors said he was not healthy enough for surgery. In his memory, his daughters, Hannah and Bethany, each donated a kidney to complete strangers. Their hope was to help other families avoid the suffering theirs experienced in losing their dad.
This week, Hannah recognized the one-year anniversary of her father’s death on Facebook, changing her profile picture to one of her and her father at Wrigley Field. The elder Goralski died on Sept. 23 last year.
“It was the pleasure of my life being your daughter these past 23 years,” the post reads. “Rest In Peace and save a place for me.”
It was the father’s death that began a series of events that helped multiple people who needed kidney transplants. The chain reaction started with Hannah and Bethany deciding to donate kidneys even though their father could not use them.
“You are just in a lull and a loss and you’re thinking about what am I going to do to stop thinking about this person,” Hannah Goralski, 24, told “Good Morning America.” “My dad was always giving, he was always helping others. And I thought what a great way to honor him. Knowing a lot of people who have been affected by organ transplant, it felt selfish to keep my kidney.”
The sisters from Chicago underwent their surgeries a day apart in March 2019 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Bethany, 25, encourages other young people to consider the impact organ donation can have.
“I would tell them to do it, I don’t regret it one bit,” she said. “We’re young and healthy, so my recovery was only about 10 days.”
On March 19, Bethany shared this photo on Facebook of the pair showcasing their scars after their surgeries:
The women say they know that their late father would be proud of their decision to help others in need.
In fact, their generous actions inspired other people who wanted to donate kidneys to loved ones but weren’t a match. Like the sisters, these people decided undergo the surgery anyway so that they could also donate their kidneys to strangers.
At least five people have now been the recipients of needed kidney transplants thanks to the sisters. The ten donors and recipients got a chance to meet one another and talk at an event at Northwestern Memorial in July.
Bethany posted an image of herself with the recipient of her kidney, Melanie Mavec, on her Facebook page:
“It’s a gift,” kidney recipient Julia Bauchwitz said at a news conference, according to The Chicago Tribune. About the Goralskis, she added, “I don’t know. It’s unbelievable. I just — I hope they know how special they are.”
And NBC 5 Chicago reported that the chain didn’t stop there.
“These chains are still ongoing and more people getting transplanted because of their initial gift,” Dr. John Friedewald, Northwestern Medical’s director of kidney and and pancreas transplantation, told the station in July.
What a selfess, perfect way to honor their father’s legacy! These sisters really made a difference in people’s lives.