– In 1988 after a severe cold I went to the doctor. He sent me to the hospital where x-rays of my lungs revealed signs of tuberculosis. Then I was sent to the Korányi Frigyes T.B. sanatorium for examination where it was confirmed that I had tuberculosis. After a half-year long treatment it turned out that they had made a false diagnosis: I didn’t have tuberculosis. I had contracted a disease called Boeck sarcoidosis. The nature of this disease is that small tumorous blisters appear scattered on the lungs, which cause the alveoli to burst. The doctors were not optimistic.
– What were the physical signs of this disease? What did you feel?
– I had very strong fits of coughing, and I couldn’t breath. It felt like when someone’s head is pushed under the water, and there is no oxygen anymore. Discharge was coming out of my lungs; my sputum was sometimes yellowish, sometimes greenish. I can clearly remember a day I spent at my parents’. I was drinking a cup of hot tea, when all of a sudden I just couldn’t breathe. The porcelain cup I was holding burst in my hand, that’s how strong my grip was on it due to the hampered respiration and fits of suffocation I was having. I fell on the ground thinking I would die. The ambulance came, and after having examined me they said to my parents that there was no reason to take me to the hospital as I would die within a couple of seconds. In the end they did take me as I was still alive.
In the hospital, they cut my chest at my ribs without using any anaesthetic– maybe because there was no time for that – they stabbed a scalpel in it and put a compressor on me to suck out the air, as I developed pneumothorax. This means that the air gets between the pleura and the lung, instead of going into the lung. This was my first experience of coming very close to death.
Unfortunately, a few days later my other lung collapsed as well. About three months after that both of my lungs collapsed at the same time. I was rushed to a hospital where I was operated on for eight hours. It wasn’t an easy job, once they had to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation. As strange as it may seem, I was conscious of everything, just as if I had been watching myself lying on the operating table from the outside. I knew that my family was there, too.
– I guess you started to feel better after the surgery…
– On the contrary, my condition continued to deteriorate, so much so, that for six months I had to receive steroid treatment. So many alveoli blew out and I had so few left, that when my respiratory functions were checked, the results showed one liter, which is hardly enough for one to be able to speak. I could neither walk nor move at all. I could only go to the toilet with the help of my wife. I got fat and swelled as a result of the steroid treatment. It is not nice, but I have to tell you that one of the accompanying symptoms of lung problems of this kind is that water can only leave your body with great difficulty; passing urine is very hard.
It was then when the doctors told me that the only way that I could survive would be to agree to a lung transplant. In Hungary nobody performed such an operation, only in Vienna, and it cost about forty million HUF (two-hundred-thousand dollars), part of which the social health system would pay.
This is how I got sent before the transplant committee, which included doctors from Vienna as well, at the Budakeszi T.B. sanatorium. They performed all kinds of examinations on me, from dental check-ups through placing in a heart catheter to psychological examinations, in order to establish if my condition was suitable for receiving a foreign lung. After the exhausting series of examinations, which took a couple of days, they told me that neither my heart, nor my kidneys were suitable for the operation.
– If I understand it right, the examinations are a sort of safeguard against performing such an expensive surgery” in vain”…
– Exactly. They decide whether they should waste such a rare opportunity, an organ taken out in extraordinary circumstances and a lot of money on you. They gave me thirty days to improve the condition of my heart with the help of a special training program and to improve my kidneys with some medicine so that I might become suitable for the operation. Unfortunately, I got stuck at the beginning of the training program; I was just lying in bed waiting for death to come. I was thinking about what would happen in thirty days time, whether I would still receive new lungs?
– I presume that during these days you collapsed psychologically as well…
– I spent sixteen hours a day under my oxygen mask. I spent my time thinking about who would come to my funeral and who would bring flowers… I think I went mad to a certain degree in those days, actually.
Mariann, his wife:
– I did not dare to fall asleep at that time because I was afraid of what I would wake up to in the morning; whether I would find him alive at all. The doctors said that he could even suffocate because of a bad move; he was in such a terrible condition. In the end he could not even walk alone. It was horrible. We became nervous wrecks because of this illness, it had eaten up our money and we went bankrupt completely. Our son attended school, but he never knew what he would come home to.
– It was in these last moments that my cousin, József Kökény, suddenly showed up. He had been attending Faith Church for about ten years. He started to tell me the gospel. He told me that Jesus Christ walked on earth two thousand years ago, and that he heals people today just as he did then.
But I stayed obstinate even in that condition. I was panting to him “look my friend, I have enough trouble, leave me alone!” Now I regret saying that, but I know that after so many years of illness my heart was bitter and hardened. I was unable to believe. Thank God Józsi did not give up, he visited me almost everyday, he would sit there and pray and he kept finding new ways to approach me. Now, looking back, I really appreciate his persistence and that he perceived that he should not be aggressive with me in that situation.
– So did you soon say yes to the heavenly calling?
– Unfortunately, for long weeks I didn’t. I just realized that when he was there with me I didn’t think of death and the room was filled with some kind of a pleasant fragrance. Calmness and peace fell on me, and I did not even think of the surgery. I just realized that I needed his presence; I needed his visits because I felt I was a bit happier when he was there and my hope would also return. Of course, I didn’t reveal these feelings to him; I didn’t dare to tell him. I only mentioned it to my wife that it was good for me when Józsi visited us.
Once he asked me to give him a chance, I didn’t have to go to church with him, I just had to give him one of my T-shirts. He said he would take it to the church where it would be blessed, and just as Christ did not personally go to each sick person, but his word was enough for the healing to be realized, the blessing on the T-shirt would heal me. Next day he brought the T-shirt back to me. Of course I was laughing when I put it on; I found the whole situation very funny. However, to my astonishment, a little later I had to go to the toilet and suddenly an enormous amount of water left my body. Then I took a deep breathe; after a long time I could breathe the air in deeply. Since then I have been able to breathe normally. Needless to say, I was wearing the T-shirt for five days…
– Yes, I couldn’t take it off of him for five days!
–As I got better I told Józsi that I would go to see what was happening in this Faith Park. I didn’t want to repent, just to look around. Nevertheless, I shouted to God during the praise, I asked him to touch me and to heal me if he really existed! And when I said “Touch me!” I was filled with heat from above, I began to tremble, my legs were moving, and I did not know what was going on. First I started to fight against it, I wanted to stop it, but then an invisible hand pushed me to the ground and an enormous force overwhelmed me, I couldn’t do anything against it. And this hot force was just flowing inside me from my head to my feet, then back to my head.
After some time I stood up and when sinners were called to repent, I went forward and received Jesus Christ into my heart. I could not sleep in the following couple of days at home. I wasn’t sleepy at all; I was watching films about the gospel. I was reading and devouring the Word even at night. I wanted everything instantly. I knew that God had done a miracle in me; I could put sixteen years of misery behind me.
– And what happened to the transplant committee? They expected you to go back in thirty days.
–Yes, May arrived soon and I went to see the committee. I have to tell you that I had decided at home that I would not speak about what had happened to me. Not because I did not want to, quite the contrary, but something inside me said that it would be in vain that they would not believe me. However, they were astonished when they saw me. They could see that the water had come out of my body, the swelling had disappeared from my face, and they could see the unbelievable change in my vitality. They immediately asked what I had done, what my secret that caused this change was. They asked if I had got Celladam. I said, no. They asked if I had ordered miracle pills from Mexico. I said I hadn’t.
In the end I said to myself, “come what may”, and I told them that I had been healed by the Word of God, because I believed the gospel. In the end they could not do anything with me, so they sent me home saying that this was only a temporary improvement, probably it would not last long. But I know who I believed. Doctors had not been able to help me for sixteen years, only God and my faith could. Now for me this is reality…
György Kökény takes a sheet of paper from the top of a pile of documents with bright eyes, it’s the result of the previous day’s medical check up, which reads: “No sign of activity from Boeck sarcoidosis can be seen.”
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