Friends and family of Mimi Lukov, a junior from Laie majoring in business management and finance, said two years ago you would not be able to recognize Mimi.
From December 2017 to January 2019, the Lukov Family said it was a challenging time for their family because their daughter, Mimi, was suffering from a rare kidney disorder, Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS.) Mimi gained 70 pounds with 60 of those pounds being water weight.
According to kidney.org, FSGS can affect the kidney’s function by attacking and damaging the glomeruli, the tiny filtering units inside your kidney where blood is cleaned, causing swelling in the body and low levels of protein in the blood.
Mimi recalled, “I felt like I was a prisoner in my whole body. My kidney wouldn’t filter bad stuff out of the body. My face and entire body was swollen. I couldn’t walk, or hardly move. I needed to drop out of school.”
Mimi’s mother and a BYU–Hawaii EIL teacher, Tatyana Lukov, said the doctors could not figure out what happened to Mimi when both of her legs started swelling and a huge hump formed on her back. Tatyana said the doctors thought the swelling was an indication of lupus, but the medicine they gave Mimi did not allow the hump to recede.
Due to Mimi’s condition, she said she stayed home for two years, and Tatyana noted how those two years were hard on the family.
“Two years being in that state [was] hard and depressing. Every morning I woke up to check if she was still alive and breathing."
The Lukov Family finally saw a glimpse of hope after Mimi’s kidney was completely dead, enabling her to finally start her dialysis treatment.
Mimi said she did dialysis 13 hours per day. However, this summer Tatyana was able to donate her kidney to Mimi, but the results were not what they wished. Mimi said, “I had my transplant, but so far the new kidney from my mom was shut down by my FSGS so that’s pretty horrible.
“So I have been doing infusions and a procedure where they filter the antibodies from my blood three times every week, called plasmapheresis. Either I will be doing that for the rest of my life or get back on dialysis.
“Also my YSA ward and family ward fasted for me, which was amazing,” she continued. “I know that if it is Heavenly Father’s will, everything will work out in His timing for the best.
Mimi added with joy, “It is the biggest blessing because I can have a life again.”
Kristen Schlegel, a senior from South Carolina studying biology, said Mimi is always so bright and smiley. “She never lets her disease affect her. She is always so hopeful and optimistic. If I have what she has, I would feel depressed. Hanging out with others is tiring for her, but she never shows it.”
Mimi added, “The biggest lesson I learned in this trial is no matter how bad things are, there is always hope and ways for things to get better.
“There are moments I feel really sad or hopeless, but I don’t listen to those feelings anymore. I have a picture of myself before [dialysis] so that I won’t forget. I want to have an attitude of gratitude of where I am right now and [continue to] be grateful and mindful [for all the blessings].”
She added how she is aware other people are going through more difficult trials than she is.
“Not everyone is as lucky and blessed as I am to have answers to their prayers. I want to live for them. I am here for them not to give up hope.”
Mimi said her testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has increased. She said, “Knowing Jesus Christ has gone through all our pain, if He overcame the world, I can overcome this too.”
She said when she was stuck at home she started doing family history. After recovering, Mimi went to the temple to perform ordinances for the names she found.
“I am surprised I did the whole process by myself. I always think family history is for old, capable people. It is so personal for me to be able to do it at my age.”
Her father, Georgi, is a science professor at BYUH. She said this experience has drawn her closer to her roots in Bulgaria, as she said she felt closer to her ancestors and family.
Tatyana noted Mimi now is more determined and she is a happier person. “As long as we have the Spirit with us, we can go through whatever we need to every day. I have learned from her that we don’t have to do things great in life. We just need to do what we can.”