Steven Michael Katona, age 63 passed away on June 11, 2022, after several years of hospitals, surgeries, rehabs, nursing homes, etc.
Beloved son of Carol Lee Katona Johnston (David), and James A. Katona, Sr., (Selena), loving brother of James, Jr. (Dawn), Anthony (Wendy), and Gina Ann (Krystopa), Michael (Leslie), and Brie. Predeceased in death by his siblings, Mark (Judith), Francis Kennedy aka Frankie Katona, and his nephew, Anthony Krystopa (Gina's son).
Born in Philadelphia, Steven attended grade school at St. John the Baptist in Manayunk before moving to Lafayette Hill, where he attended Whitemarsh Junior High School and Montgomery County VoTech Carpentry Program very delightfully. Steve was at the top of his class, highly favored by his instructors and teachers, popular with his fellow students, likewise with his football and wrestling coaches, and his teammates. Outgoing and highly happy natured, Steve loved life despite his misfortunate kidney disease at the age 14 that eventually lead to four kidney transplants over many years, beginning at age 20 in 1979 with a donation from his dad that unfortunately was rejected in seven days. He then went on to dialysis three times a week at HUP. Two years later, his mother, Carol, became the second donor on her 40th birthday, August 12, 1980, and Steve managed to do well for two years. Back on dialysis for a few years, then in late November 1985 he received a kidney from a cadaver that went into immediate rejection and a battle ensued that went on for two months of living in ICU at HUP. Back on dialysis with a peritoneal portable system that spared him three days a week at the dialysis center. Through it all, Steve never complained. He went on to become the first dialysis patient in a program at Penn State Main Campus at State College, Pa, the first of its kind in a new building on campus with retail stores on the first floor and nine apartments and the dialysis on the second floor. Steve was the first resident.
The University was proud. There was a lot of excitement and interest on campus, in town with all the media. During his stay, he received the fourth transplant in 1995 at HUP in Philadelphia from a donor named Steven Michael, from Akron, Ohio, which he managed to keep until his passing.
Steven's graduation with a bachelor's degree was very exciting for his family, the university, and his proud parents of the donor.
From the beginning, family friend and special friend to Steven, Jim Murray, then the General Manager of the Philadelphia Eagles, along with Leonard Tose, the team's owner, rallied behind and supported Steven, beginning with the first transplant in 1979.
Mr. Tose furnished televisions and participated in a major college fund raiser for the dialysis program.
After college Steven returned to his family home in Lafayette Hill and then to Clifton Heights in his own apartment, had his own car and enthusiastically worked as a Family Counselor in Kensington & Allegheny and Germantown & Lehigh sections of Philadelphia where he was appreciated, loved, and respected by his fellow workers, clients, their families, and employer.
While the kidney function was good, other problems developed - thyroid surgery, addictive pain medicines, diabetes, skin rashes, and partial toe and foot amputation. Steve took it all in stride.
He was invited and was very happy to talk to classes at HUP and with individuals scheduled for transplant, etc.
He moved out to Carlsbad and Ocean Side California to work with his brother, Mark. When he came back to Philadelphia, after Mark passed away, Steve became friends with Bishop Joseph Galanti, the retired Archbishop of Camden NJ Diocese. Steve lived with the bishop in the bishop's Stone Harbor NJ home, and was captain on the bishop's little cabin cruiser. Steve served as full time caregiver, housekeeper, chauffer, butler, cook, etc., and celebrated daily mass.
The bishop passed away, a few days after Steven was hospitalized for major surgery. Unable to attend the final services for his good friend and prayer partner, he handled that as well.
What Steve endured is beyond human capacity. He found his purpose at a very young age and put up with enormous adversarial conditions and situations, some beyond comprehension. After a lifetime of serious illness and many recent months of additional suffering, he passed away peacefully. He was of sound mind and deep spiritual awareness. Spoke with and said farewell to all his parents and siblings personally and remotely during his last few days.
He fought the many storms graciously and in a manner from a human standpoint of view, impossible. His life's journey confirms and amplifies that we all possess an indwelling Holy Spirit that Jesus sent by way of the disciples - to be our helper.
Thank you, Steven.
A much-deserved tribute and visitation will be held at 9 AM followed by his funeral mass 10 AM on Saturday July 30, 2022, at Mary Mother of the Redeemer Catholic Church, 1325 Upper State Road, North Wales, Pa. 19454, inurnment private.
Donations in Steven name to the Renal Transplant Unit at HUP, c/o Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19104
Steven left this message - "Don't cry for me. Pray for all the angry/unforgiving people."