Graphic: Stan and Wife Jodie
Deniliquin’s Stan and Jodie Mikolajski had already been through so much, when they suddenly needed help from the Flying Doctor for urgent medical care.
The husband and wife’s initial contact with the RFDS South Eastern Section occurred when visiting the Broken Hill base in early 2020, but just over 12 months later they desperately needed the help of the service.
Originally from the Hunter Valley, the Mikolajski’s moved to Deniliquin a few years ago after Jodie was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. Her lung capacity was severely diminished, meaning a high possibility of needing a double lung transplant.
“It was coming to the point of her going on a transplant list when all of a sudden she was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), which is a form of blood cancer,” Stan explained.
The diagnosis, given about 12 months ago, halted any ideas of a transplant and the focus went to urgently treating the blood cancer, with Jodie beginning chemotherapy in November 2020. The cancer meant Jodie’s system was not able to maintain a proper level of blood platelets, which are small, colourless cell fragments in our blood that form clots and stop or prevent bleeding out.
After undertaking her fourth round of treatment in March 2021, a bone marrow biopsy and blood tests revealed Jodie’s red blood cells and platelets were maintaining.
But in May 2021, Jodie developed a bleeding nose, so Stan took her to the local hospital, where it was decided urgent medical treatment in Melbourne was needed.
“It was a life and death situation at the time,” Stan said, but driving there would have taken more than three hours.
“Some phone calls were made, which is where the Flying Doctor sprang into action.” The RFDS plane transported Jodie to Melbourne that evening, where she received treatment in the Intensive Care Unit for two weeks. Unfortunately, not long after leaving ICU, Jodie was placed into palliative care. The MDS had developed into an aggressive and advanced form of Leukemia and sadly Jodie passed away in June of this year.
“She died peacefully at home and that’s all she wanted,” Stan said.
“Once she had that flight from Deniliquin to Melbourne it prompted me and I thought ‘the Flying Doctor pretty much saved her life that night’, and it might be time to start paying it forward,” he said. “It emphasised how important the service is and what it is able to do for people in these types of situations.”
Stan has since become a regular giver to the RFDSSE because he said it gave his wife the opportunity to be with her loved ones longer.
“I will be eternally grateful that the service was there for us,” he said.