by Gestin Suttle
Maalona’s 22-month-old niece was struck and killed by a car when she walked onto Benson Road in Kent. Maalona was also hit by a car while trying to run toward the toddler.
Both were taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where niece, Rosie Taylor, died and Maalona was listed in critical condition with multiple injuries. Maalona’s right arm was so damaged that it nearly had to be amputated, and to this day she has numbness from her waist to her knees. Maalona’s one saving grace was that the injury avoided the left side of her body where she receives dialysis.
Maalona, 44, recently was released from a rehabilitation center, and while the Rainier Valley resident’s physical injuries are nearly healed, her heart remains broken over the loss of her niece, whom she helped raise.
“I always had her with me, from Friday to Monday,” Maalona said quietly, her voice breaking as she remembered the niece who was named after her.
Maalona is also a kidney dialysis patient who has been on dialysis for two decades. It started after she became so sick she could barely get out of bed. Maalona’s mother finally took her to Harborview Medical Center, where it was discovered that her kidneys were failing. March is National Kidney Month and March 10 is World Kidney Day, a time to understand that one in seven American adults has kidney disease and focus on efforts to prevent it.
It’s also a time when Maalona reflects on what her illness means to her. “We’d never heard of dialysis,” she said. A nurse then explained more about the condition and told Maalona that she would not be able to have children. “When you hear that for the first time, well, I was just bawling,” Maalona said. “I had always wanted to have babies.”
Maalona has since surrounded herself with children. In addition to caring for Rosie Taylor, Maalona has routinely cared for another niece and nephew, has been involved with the youth group at her church, and for the past 15 years has worked at the Union Gospel Mission’s Youth Reach Out Center in the Rainier Valley.
Before the accident, Maalona received dialysis at Northwest Kidney Centers’ Elliott Bay facility. She now also goes to Seattle Kidney Center to better accommodate her schedule.
Maalona just recently returned to work.
“I always hear people saying (that) they’re going to take one day at a time” when recovering from tragedy, Maalona said, adding, “Yes, it’s one day at a time, but it’s what you do with your time that’s going to make things easier.
“Me, I’m just going to help children, make a difference in their lives. That’s going to help me heal.”