Since birth, Olesya Kulikova has been in and out of the hospital with a myriad of health conditions.
From pneumonia, bronchial asthma and intense stomach aches, the now 27-year-old has had her fair share of ailments.
Doctors however, were unable to give her a diagnosis until 2009, when they found her organs were in the wrong place.
Olesya suffers from a rare condition known as situs inversus totalis, an abnormality that is characterized by a mirror reversal of the essential organs.
The illness occurs in around one out of 10,000 people who are born with the condition – with Olesya being undiagnosed for 13 years.
It is usually detected through X-rays, CT, MRI scans or ultrasonography.
She said that she was 14-years-old when she found out her heart was on the right side of her body.
Then four years later, at 18, she was told her liver was located on the left.
Olesya, from Achinsk, Russia said she had been in hospital in 2019 for pneumonia when medics told her her lungs were located in a “mirror fashion.”
“Every time I go through a medical examination, I have to explain that my heart is on the right, not the left like all people.
“I don’t have tattoos, documents or jewelry which could warn doctors if I lose consciousness.
“During electrocardiograms, a test which checks the heart’s rhythm, [I have to tell] doctors to place the electrodes on the right,” she told NeedToKnow.online.
In 2021, Olesya was diagnosed with Kartagener syndrome, which is a hereditary condition that causes difficulties moving debris and fluid from the lungs.
Because of this, she says she has had pneumonia four times, has bronchial asthma, shortness of breath and a constant cough.
Fast forward to April this year and Olesya went to the hospital with a stomach ache – only later to be told she actually had kidney stones.
In order to try and control and treat her conditions, Olesya started going to the gym where she hopes to help her lungs “work properly” and so far, has found breathing easier.
She claims that her condition is an anomaly and that because of this – people who have the condition and get pregnant are told to get a termination.
Olesya, who is the only person in her family with the condition, added that she had previously met a woman with the same illness, who told her that if the baby did survive, it could be born with disabilities.
“As doctors rarely meet this type of scenario, they assumed that the baby would die – but she had a healthy baby, which I call Miracle.
“In another case, the child was born with their heart on the right and had a defect, but he underwent surgery and now has a completely healthy heart.”
Despite not yet having any children of her own, she is now trying to raise awareness of the illness to make people feel less alone.
She added: “I admit, I was embarrassed that I had situs inversus totalis – but I started to blog and people from all different countries wrote to me.
“Most people often ask questions about my health and many find me by hashtags where I offer support.
“Of course, everyone hopes that their children will live happily ever after with this anomaly and I’m convinced that we can lead a normal life.”
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.
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