Manitoba

Winnipeg girl overcomes 'drastic illness' thanks to dad's kidney

It's been a rough few years for 15-year-old Ashlee Podolsky, but now she's headed to Hawaii with her family — and a new lease on life.

Ashlee, 15, had a medical condition that caused the cells in one of her kidneys to attack each other

Ashlee Podolsky smiles at Health Sciences Centre on Jan. 15, 2016, the day after she underwent surgery to receive a new kidney. (Courtesy Lisa Podolsky)

It's been a rough few years for 15-year-old Ashlee Podolsky, but now she's headed to Hawaii with her family — and a new lease on life.

"It gives us some normalcy after everything," said Ashlee's dad, Randy Podolsky.

It also gives Ashlee and her dad more time to bond — if it's possible to share more than they already have. 

In 2013, Ashlee learned she had a medical condition that caused the cells in one of her kidneys to attack each other.

"I cried. I think the whole family cried," she said.

Randy Podolsky, Ashlee's father, lets people know he's OK at Health Sciences Centre the day after surgery. (Courtesy Lisa Podolsky)

"It was devastating for the whole family," Podolsky added, but he praised the doctors at Health Sciences Centre for helping alleviate some of those emotions.

They let the family know how serious Ashlee's situation was "but they also let us know that it's fixable," Podolsky said.

Ashlee was immediately put on a waiting list for a kidney donor while the family started undergoing tests to see if they were potential candidates. It took 6½ months of tests and bloodwork to learn Podolsky and his wife, Lisa, were matches for their daughter.

I just feel like we went through a pretty big thing together, and it brings us closer.- Ashlee   Podolsky

The decision was made — mostly by Ashlee — that Podolsky would be the donor.

"I kinda told them that I would rather my dad do it because I feel like he's stronger, and I feel like he can handle it more than my mom," she said.

This past weekend marked one year since the surgery and it didn't take long for Ashlee to notice a change in her life. During her illness, she had low energy, didn't eat a lot and was losing considerable weight, she said.

"Now I'm just feeling really good, have a lot of energy, working out at the gym, eating a lot. [I'm] just having a great life now," she said.

The experience has also increased her connection with her dad.

"I just feel like we went through a pretty big thing together, and it brings us closer," Ashlee said.

"It's brought the whole family together," her dad added.

Now, Ashlee wants them to share a little more.

On Thursday, the Dream Factory will give Ashlee and her family a trip to Hawaii. The organization grants the wishes of children battling life-threatening illnesses.

Ashlee said she chose a trip because travelling was something her family regularly did together before she became sick. It's been three years since they've been able to go anywhere.

"We used to just connect and have the best family time, and I kind of miss that," she said.

"I just thought, the whole family went through this drastic illness with me. We all deserve to relax and unwind in a new place."