I am incredibly honored to share the story of my dad, Mike Komula, as he prepares for and awaits a lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic Transplant Center. Mike has suffered from auto-immune COPD for over twenty years now. He was diagnosed in 1996 at Barnes Jewish Hospital and since then has underwent numerous procedures and surgeries in efforts to prolong his health before resorting to more extreme measures. Mike was originally a candidate for a double lung and heart transplant in previous years and remained on an inactive UNOS list. After more recent evaluation, the transplant team at Cleveland Clinic feel that a single lung transplant will yield the best possible outcome and long-term prognosis.
My dad has achieved every goal his doctors have placed before him so he may have the best opportunity to have a successful transplant. Lung transplantation can extend and improve your quality of life, but is physically, emotionally, and financially demanding on the patient and family. Even with health insurance, there are still so many financial burdens that come along with an event such as this. The post-op care plan alone requires Mike and a caregiver to live within one hour of Cleveland Clinic for a minimum of 3-5 months after he is discharged from the hospital. Prescriptions that will now include anti-rejection meds are estimated to leave a patient with $2,500.00 in uninsured expenses per month. These are only a few highlights from the overall projected “patient responsibility” figure.
I have watched my Dad “show up” and be present for just about anyone and everyone who has ever crossed his path. Everywhere he goes someone is eager to exchange hellos or chat awhile. He is a happy guy. One of those people who immediately puts you at ease even though he is the one struggling to breathe! One can’t help but usually feel better after running into Mike. He enlightens you with his own positive spin or your own overlooked gratitude for what sometimes only amounts to just a sliver of hope in an impossible situation. Mike offers his help and is genuinely excited to aide you in any way he knows how. He laughs his huge laugh and cracks his father’s old jokes and somehow for a few minutes you forget everything negative going on around you. Like his own mother does so well, he just listens and never undermines your feelings, no matter what they are. He lets you feel understood. I have spent my whole life watching my dad engage with people like this whether ministering in our church, just like his own father had done, or sitting at the kitchen table. At times growing up I found myself to be so critical of this interaction. These wonderful attributes that seem to embody his very essence I did not always hold so dear.
It has taken me a long time to discover that this is my dad’s God given gift and personal survival tool, his coping mechanism. He finds joy and draws strength from helping those whose problems can be comforted if not solved with not much more than lending a gentle ear. I wish my father’s struggles with his declining health could be healed with a kind word, as do all who know him. My dad has been married for over twenty years now to my step mom Melissa, who is his very own prayer warrior and positive self-talk coach. She is his best friend and his fiercest ally every single day. They are always better together. I also have an older brother Matt (36), a younger brother Andrew (18) and of course our baby sister Anneke (16). Each of us kids have our own unique and special relationship with him because he has always made it that way and we are so very lucky.
I could go on and list all of Mike’s accomplishments, his various work and life endeavors over the years, but it begins to dwell too much in the past tense for my taste. If I had to epitomize my dad in brief, it would read like this- A beloved son and proud father; A loving husband; A man who lives deeply in his faith and the promise that he is a child of God; A believer in miracles and one who takes comfort in knowing that everything happens for a reason; A truly kind and gentle soul.
Mike is going to need all the strength and focus he can possibly muster up in the approaching months. I have no doubt that he will be successful with the transplant and continue to lead a healthy life, but the financial impact will take a very heavy toll. It is with sincere humility that I am requesting your help in reducing some of this stress. It would certainly help Mike “breathe” a little easier! There is nobody more deserving of our help.
****We have chosen to fundraise with Help Hope Live in part because Help Hope Live assures fiscal accountability of funds raised and tax deductibility to the full extent allowed by law for donors. Donors can be sure that funds donated will be used only to pay or reimburse medically-related expenses.
August 28, 2017
Mike, you are an inspiration to all of us. We love you so much.
August 19, 2017
Mike you have always been a larger then life present in all of my families life's. I have never met anyone in my lifetime as worthy for prayers and blessings then you!!! You are always in my prayers! You have helped me in so many ways, ways you don't even know about. So thank you for letting me and my family have the pleasure of having you in our life!! I am going to try and make it, if not you will hear from me soon.
August 17, 2017
Hey Mikey...You know we are all crazy about you. So glad you are going to get the help you need! We love you!