Diocesan News

Catholic Queens Man’s Prayers Are Answered at 11th Hour When Kidney Donor Is Found

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — As he approached end-stage renal failure, Petar Vukelich had been running out of options. His kidney function was at less than 10%, and in an anguished attempt to find a living donor for him, he and his family were reaching out to his Sunnyside community and beyond.

That search has now come to a happy end. Vukelich has found a matching donor for a kidney transplant from an old friend, with surgery set for July. 

“Many tears and words of gratitude followed,” he told The Tablet in an email. 

The Tablet spoke with Vukelich one month ago, along with his wife and their three daughters.  Their roots run deep in the Sunnyside Catholic community — they are parishioners at Queens of Angels Church, and all their daughters attend Catholic school nearby. 

Vukelich was placed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) transplant list in December, after being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, or CKD, a condition in which the kidneys cannot filter blood as they should. In New York, the average wait time for a kidney transplant is five to seven years, according to New York-Presbyterian

With the support of his close friends, the Vukelich family was spreading the word about Petar’s need for a living kidney donor who could donate directly to him, through flyers which were put in church bulletins, by the daughters’ schools, and online. Even if someone couldn’t donate, they could just as importantly spread the word, they said. 

Their message made it to the right person. On Friday, May 24, Petar received a phone call from an old friend he hadn’t spoken to in a long time who had heard that his health was deteriorating  from CKD.

She passed all the tests, and they were a match. The Kidney Transplantation Committee approved her donation, and Vukelich is scheduled for kidney transplant surgery on July 22.

The miracle, Vukelich claims, isn’t just luck. Last week, a friend of Vukelich’s mother sent him a set of rosary beads, along with a note telling him to stay strong in his search for a kidney donor. He put the beads on for the first time on Friday, and just two hours later, he received the call from his friend, who told him that she would begin the testing process.

“The power of prayer is great and so is God,” Vukelich added.