Community

Dying Chilliwack woman stuck in Iceland

Magdalina Diamantis (second from right) is hoping to make it back to her home country of Greece before she dies. Above, she is pictured with her family in 2008 when they closed their restaurant, Mino
Magdalina Diamantis (second from right) is hoping to make it back to her home country of Greece before she dies. Above, she is pictured with her family in 2008 when they closed their restaurant, Mino's Pizza and Steak House.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS FILE

A well-known Chilliwack family is in desperate need of the community's help.

Magdalina Diamantis, former owner of Minos Pizza and Steak House on Yale Road, is stuck in hospital in Iceland, desperately wanting to get back to her hometown in Greece – before she dies.

Diamantis is in the final stages of pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic disease that attacks the lungs with swelling and scar tissue.

Last Monday, she said her final goodbyes to her Chilliwack family, and boarded a flight to Greece with her husband George and one of their three daughters.

Five hours into the flight, Magdalina developed a blood clot in her leg, then had a heart attack.

With four doctors on flight, Magdalina was stabilized, and the plane was rerouted to Iceland for an emergency landing.

Her heart is regulated, but "her lungs are done," said Faye, her lip quivering as she recalled the late-night phone call from her sister.

Because of Magdalina's condition, she didn't qualify for traveller's insurance.

Family and friends are trying to raise enough money to get Magdalina home.

George and Magdalina Diamantis immigrated to Canada in 1973 from Kos, Greece.

For 36 years, they ran Minos Pizza and Steak House, a beloved joint that fed all varieties of Chilliwackians. Families in love with the homey atmosphere, regulars sitting for hours laughing with the familial staff, late-night pub dwellers wanting a last bite before they headed home to crash.

For Faye and her sisters, Minos was a second home – a melting pot of memories.

"We were raised in the kitchen," said Faye.

If Minos was a second home, Chilliwack was a second country for Magdalina.

"All of my life is here in Chilliwack," she said in a 2008 Progress article on the closing of Minos. "Even if it sounds silly, I feel it's my second country. I raised my family here, my kids."

Magdalina, 66, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis six years ago. The reason is not known and there are no medicines or a cure.

The only thing she has is oxygen.

In the last few months, her health has severely deteriorated to the point her doctor told her she must go home to Greece now if she was going to go at all.

Being buried in her hometown is her dying wish.

"Her mom and dad are there, her brother just died there, it's her home, it's where she wants to be," said Faye, her hands shaking, tears washing over her cheeks.

"My mom, she was the best lady I ever met. She did everything for her kids, everything, to her last breath… this is the worst experience I've ever been through in my life."

If Magdalina is approved for travel, she'll require either an air ambulance to get her to Greece, at a cost of $30,000, or, if the family's travel agent can negotiate a deal with Lufthansa, a stretcher seat in first class with the accompaniment of a medical staff, at a cost of $7,000.

"This family has done so much for this town," said family friend Heidi Moran, who's mom worked at the restaurant. "It would be good if [the community] can now come together and help them."

Two fundraisers have been organized.

On Wednesday, Nov. 27, starting at 5:30 p.m., a burger and beer fundraiser is being held at Long Island Pub in Harrison Hot Springs. Tickets are $10. Another fundraiser is on Thursday, Nov. 28, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Friendly Mike's Pub with three options for food and a drink. Tickets are $12.

Both fundraisers will include a silent auction and 50-50 tickets.

As well, a trust account has been set up for the family at Envision Credit Union, on Cheam Ave., under account number 1494905. Those with Internet banking can donate to the account online with the email address Faye_Diamantis@hotmail.com.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the fundraiser contact Heidi Moran at 604-701-8317.

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