HOL Scholarship Award Recipient
This fall, Hands-On Labs introduced for the first time the HOL Scholarship Program. We donated lab kits to students that demonstrated an exceptional commitment and passion for science. We are honored to have so many incredible scholarship recipients that remind us why we are in this business.
Hands-On Labs was created to give students the opportunity to pursue an education in science away from the classroom to fit with their non-traditional schedules. Here we highlight the story about one of our scholarship recipients: Athena Kokolis.
Athena is working towards a science degree at Thomas Nelson Community College. She is a proud mother of four and happily married to her high-school sweetheart. Kokolis is one of the many scholarship recipients of the HOL scholarship program this fall 2016. Read in her own words why she was drawn to study science.
“Growing up I was always interested in Science, especially Genetics. What really made me fall in love with Science and push me to pursue a degree in Science is when my father became ill. Five years ago my father was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.
My father was a rare case because he did not have any heart attacks, strokes, illnesses or any long term symptoms that caused his heart diseases. He lived a healthy lifestyle but a stress full one. After testing, we were told his injection fraction (strength at which his heart is functioning) was at 8 percent and he needed to have a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted. One year after having the devices implanted my father’s heart kept stopping and his devices had to kick in. It got to the point that he would go into A fib or cardio Tacky at least 4 times a day.
The cardiologist in Newport News told my family and I we needed to make preparations for my father’s funeral because there was nothing more they could do for him. My sisters and I were determined not to give up. We got him an appointment a few days later at MCV and during his first appointment the cardiologist told us my father could not go home. The cardiologist gave us the option of allowing them to implant an LVAD (left ventricle aid device) and place him on a heart transplant list.
The LVAD was fairly new at the time and all medical cost would be covered by the hospital if they could use my dad as a case study. The LVAD is considered a bridge to a transplant or in other words it is for patients who will not live long enough to wait for a heart transplant. The LVAD will buy the patient time in hopes of receiving a heart transplant. The LVAD is an amazing device. It controls the pumping chambers on the left side of the heart. The device is controlled by an external machine that has a power cord that goes through the patient’s abdomen and into their heart.
During my father’s journey with the LVAD, I have seen many things. My father had several complications in his third year of having the LVAD. The LVAD cracked in his heart causing an infection around his heart. The hospital had to list my father on the A1 list. The only way to save my father was to remove the broken pump but at the same time my father could not survive without the LVAD. The only way he could survive is if he received his gift, a heart transplant. During this time, they had to keep my father’s chest open and packed with sponge and a wound vac. They did this to maintain and keep an eye on the infection around his heart. I was able to look into my father’s chest when the wound specialist came in to remove his dressings and check on the infection site.
Long story short, over the years I have seen amazing things when it comes to Science. I have seen the LVAD progress from a large machine to a small pocket device. I have seen what an artificial heart looks like and met patients that were implanted with it. I met these individuals during my father’s Journey at MCV. I have seen Science save my father’s life and many others loose their life waiting for a transplant. Science is important to me because Science gave me my father back.
My father received the gift of life on Feb. 21 and he would not have lived long enough to get it if it was not for the LVAD. I want to study, learn and improve our knowledge when it comes to Science. One day I want to read someone’s story about a device or medication I invented that saved their loved one’s life. This is why Science is important to me!”
– Athena Kokolis
To learn more about the HOL Scholarship program please visit: http://holscience.com/scholarship/