043033 UC Ingalls Mental Health Awareness Month Ad Reoirter

Simmons teacher receives special gift from brother

kristen and jason photo 1 21
Photo courtesy of University of Chicago Hospitals
Kristen Batkiewicz and her brother Jason Korkosz are seen in University of Chicago Hospital just before their surgeries on Oct. 29, 2019.
By Carol McGowan
We hear of teachers giving, but Jason Korkosz has taken that idea it to a whole new level.
Korkosz is a physical and driver education teacher at Argo Community High School in Summit. He’s also the assistant football and track coach.
Before staff returned from this year’s winter break, Argo Principal Brandon Cotter sent an email to employees, letting them know something many didn’t. Korkosz was a literal life-saver to his sister, Kristen Batkiewicz, who is a sixth-grade school teacher at Simmons Middle School in Oak Lawn, where the siblings grew up.
Batkiewicz, now 37, was diagnosed with a progressive liver disease as a teen. In April 2019, Batkiewicz and her family found out that her liver was failing after years of primary sclerosing cholangitis, which causes inflammation and scarring of her bile ducts. The bile builds up over time and eventually causes the liver to fail. She was otherwise healthy, and therefore was not high on an organ waiting list.
“ Kristen was in and out of the hospital every two to three months,” Korkosz said. “Her quality of life was not good.”
The longer she waited for an organ, the odds for success would be lower. A living donation was her best chance, doctors told her. The liver has the capacity to regenerate and that makes it a good source for living donations.
She was hesitant to ask people to make that kind of sacrifice. “It’s not like you are asking for a simple favor, or to borrow something,” she said. “You are asking someone to undergo major surgery and recovery for you.”
But the people in her circle wanted to help and were tested as potential donors. Turned out that her brother had the same blood type, was of the right age and was healthy, so he underwent more testing of his own to make sure he was the right one to donate and that it would be a great outcome for the both of them.
In October of 2019, about two-thirds of his liver — the right lobe —was removed at the University of Chicago Hospital, and transplanted in to Batkiewicz. They then started the long road to recovery together on the same floor at the hospital.
“Jason came to my room often to check on me and encourage me,” she said. “We watched lots of football games and Netflix shows together.”
Both Korkosz and Batkiewicz have recovered and are doing well, even during the pandemic. Korkosz returned to work at Argo in January 2020 and his liver had grown back to about 90 percent of its original size. His sister returned to her job at Simmons just in time to teach remotely thanks to the pandemic.
Kristen didn’t realize how sick she had been until after the transplant.
“ Chronic pain and fatigue had become my norm,” she said. “With a new liver, I felt healthy and energized for the first time in a long time.”
More than 13,000 people are on the waiting list for a new liver in this country, and because the need for donor organs far exceeds the number of livers available for transplant, about 1,500 Americans die each year while waiting. That has inspired both siblings to help raise awareness of the living donation program.
Back at Argo, Cotter said that what Korkosz did goes far beyond being a great guy.
He said Korkosz was friendly, positive and genuine, and that even though medical procedures are light years ahead of where they used to be, nothing is guaranteed.
He also said he could not express in words how much he looks up to Korkosz for what he did and is extremely proud that he gets to work with him.
“ Jason is a shining example of Argo and the amazing people that are there,” Cotter said. He hopes everyone can take inspiration from Korkosz’s selfless act and work toward making 2021 a better year.
Gretchen Rubin, a senior communications specialist at UChicago Medicine, contributed to this report.

Local News

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound May 25, 2022

regional orland memorial day 2022 preview

Orland Park to add 7 names during Memorial Day ceremony

The Orland Park community is invited to join the village this Memorial Day in remembrance of those who have given their lives for our country. The ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 30, at the village’s memorial, Ara Pace – Place of Peace, located outside of Village Hall at 14700 S.…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Girls Soccer: De La Salle tops Bremen for program’s first regional title

By Steve Millar Correspondent De La Salle coach Carlos Nunez has seen his teams come up a bit short in the postseason repeatedly over the years. The Meteors had never won a regional championship in girls soccer. Until this year, that is. “I’ve been in every single one that we’ve lost in,” Nunez said. “We’ve…

Mallory Pugh, middle, moves the ball during the preseason. She played her first NWSL game Sunday and had two goals and an assist. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro soccer report: Pugh tallies twice return in Red Stars’ win over Orlando

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Mallory Pugh gave a sample of what could be a big 2022 season when she scored four goals in the exhibition Challenge Cup series. But the Red Stars scoring threat missed the first two games of the NWSL season with an injury, and the team split decisions against Louisville and…

Screen Shot 2022-05-23 at 8.23.03 AM

New ward map OKed

Reflects Madigan’s power By Tim Hadac The City Council this week approved a new ward map that, among other things, will see all of Clearing and most of Garfield Ridge shifted to the 13th Ward. Midway International Airport also would shift from the 23rd Ward to the 13th. Monday’s 43-7 vote means the issue will…

Sandburg's Jeremy Johnson, the hero of a semifinal win over Homewood-Flossmoor, legs out a hit in a 6-3 loss to Lockport on Saturday at Ozinga Field. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup: Sandburg takes 2nd at Bajenski tourney

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer The Sandburg baseball team has had more downs than ups this season. But the Eagles finished the regular season on a strong note with a run to second place at the Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament, which wrapped up May 21 at Ozinga Field in Crestwood. To get to the…

Sandburg's 3200 meter relay team of (left to right) Sean Marquardt Declan Tunney, Trent Anderson and Brock Rice ran the third-best time in the nation Thursday at Lockport and finished in second place. Photo courtesy of Sandburg High School.

Track Postseason Report: Sandburg boys 3200 relay records nation’s third-best time in 2022

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer How good was the competition in the boys track Class 3A Lockport Sectional in the 3200 meter relay? Sandburg’s relay team of Brock Rice, Declan Tunney, Trent Anderson and Sean Marquardt ran a time of 7:42.42, which tied for the third-best time in the nation in 2022. And that was…

biz pop's beef logo

Pop’s to celebrate National Italian Beef Day with week of specials

Palos Heights-based Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage is beefing up May this year with a week-long celebration of National Italian Beef Day at each of their locations. As part of the celebrations, Pop’s is hosting an interactive contest on their Facebook page during the week of National Italian Beef Day from Monday, May 23, through…

Members of the “Small Island, Big Song” presented educational workshops to students at Moraine Valley Community College. (Supplied photo)

‘Small Island, Big Song’ workshops enrich classroom learning at MVCC

From staff reports Coming from some of the smallest islands in the world, performers from “Small Island, Big Song” talked about climate change, indigenous cultures and island history from their homelands to students in select sociology and geography classes at Moraine Valley Community College last month. The group performed their musical and spoken word endeavor…

Elaine Grande

Pathlights names new executive director

From staff reports Elaine Grande has been appointed Executive Director by Pathlights’ Board of Directors effective May 30. Grande brings more than 30 years of successful leadership experience and becomes only the third Executive Director in the Palos Heights nonprofit’s 46-year history. She currently leads all Pathlights program and services as Director of Program Development…

Neighbors

AladdinsBanquets WebAd
SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound May 25, 2022

regional orland memorial day 2022 preview

Orland Park to add 7 names during Memorial Day ceremony

The Orland Park community is invited to join the village this Memorial Day in remembrance of those who have given their lives for our country. The ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 30, at the village’s memorial, Ara Pace – Place of Peace, located outside of Village Hall at 14700 S.…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Girls Soccer: De La Salle tops Bremen for program’s first regional title

By Steve Millar Correspondent De La Salle coach Carlos Nunez has seen his teams come up a bit short in the postseason repeatedly over the years. The Meteors had never won a regional championship in girls soccer. Until this year, that is. “I’ve been in every single one that we’ve lost in,” Nunez said. “We’ve…

Mallory Pugh, middle, moves the ball during the preseason. She played her first NWSL game Sunday and had two goals and an assist. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Pro soccer report: Pugh tallies twice return in Red Stars’ win over Orlando

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer Mallory Pugh gave a sample of what could be a big 2022 season when she scored four goals in the exhibition Challenge Cup series. But the Red Stars scoring threat missed the first two games of the NWSL season with an injury, and the team split decisions against Louisville and…

Screen Shot 2022-05-23 at 8.23.03 AM

New ward map OKed

Reflects Madigan’s power By Tim Hadac The City Council this week approved a new ward map that, among other things, will see all of Clearing and most of Garfield Ridge shifted to the 13th Ward. Midway International Airport also would shift from the 23rd Ward to the 13th. Monday’s 43-7 vote means the issue will…

Sandburg's Jeremy Johnson, the hero of a semifinal win over Homewood-Flossmoor, legs out a hit in a 6-3 loss to Lockport on Saturday at Ozinga Field. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup: Sandburg takes 2nd at Bajenski tourney

By Jeff Vorva Staff writer The Sandburg baseball team has had more downs than ups this season. But the Eagles finished the regular season on a strong note with a run to second place at the Steven M. Bajenski Memorial Tournament, which wrapped up May 21 at Ozinga Field in Crestwood. To get to the…

Sandburg's 3200 meter relay team of (left to right) Sean Marquardt Declan Tunney, Trent Anderson and Brock Rice ran the third-best time in the nation Thursday at Lockport and finished in second place. Photo courtesy of Sandburg High School.

Track Postseason Report: Sandburg boys 3200 relay records nation’s third-best time in 2022

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer How good was the competition in the boys track Class 3A Lockport Sectional in the 3200 meter relay? Sandburg’s relay team of Brock Rice, Declan Tunney, Trent Anderson and Sean Marquardt ran a time of 7:42.42, which tied for the third-best time in the nation in 2022. And that was…

biz pop's beef logo

Pop’s to celebrate National Italian Beef Day with week of specials

Palos Heights-based Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage is beefing up May this year with a week-long celebration of National Italian Beef Day at each of their locations. As part of the celebrations, Pop’s is hosting an interactive contest on their Facebook page during the week of National Italian Beef Day from Monday, May 23, through…

Members of the “Small Island, Big Song” presented educational workshops to students at Moraine Valley Community College. (Supplied photo)

‘Small Island, Big Song’ workshops enrich classroom learning at MVCC

From staff reports Coming from some of the smallest islands in the world, performers from “Small Island, Big Song” talked about climate change, indigenous cultures and island history from their homelands to students in select sociology and geography classes at Moraine Valley Community College last month. The group performed their musical and spoken word endeavor…

Elaine Grande

Pathlights names new executive director

From staff reports Elaine Grande has been appointed Executive Director by Pathlights’ Board of Directors effective May 30. Grande brings more than 30 years of successful leadership experience and becomes only the third Executive Director in the Palos Heights nonprofit’s 46-year history. She currently leads all Pathlights program and services as Director of Program Development…

DVN First United Realtors House Ad
CRR NH Ptecik Bakery House Ad