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Hawaii News | Incidental Lives

Close call on road is among couple’s unlikely blessings

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It was a simple enough errand.

All Noelani Sadowski wanted to do was return a video to the neighborhood grocery store. But on the way back, somewhere along that oh-so-familiar quarter-mile stretch leading to her Kane­ohe home, everything went black.

Sadowski has only her religious faith to account for what happened over the next few seconds as her To­yota Forerunner continued forward on her street.

“When I woke up, I was across the street by my neighbor’s house, and my car was wedged perfectly between a rock wall and a telephone pole,” Sadow­ski says, still incredulous all these years later. “It’s amazing that I didn’t crash into the wall or that the pole didn’t come down.”

Indeed, a few inches in either direction and Sadow­ski, then a 27-year-old newlywed, might have died. But the accident was just the beginning of what Sadow­ski considers a string of unlikely blessings.

Sadowski was taken to the hospital, where she underwent a battery of tests to determine the cause of her blackout. Eventually, an angiogram uncovered arteriovenous malformation, a defect of the circulatory system. Sadow­ski would need surgery, but in the interim doctors closely monitored her condition and prescribed medication to keep her stable. To avoid a potentially dangerous drug interaction, Sadowski had to discontinue her birth control pill.

The surgery was performed three months later by the same surgeon who had successfully operated on her aunt — “everything just kept falling into place,” Sadow­ski says — but Sadow­ski’s wild ride wasn’t nearly over. A month later she found out she was pregnant.

Sadowski (nee Fonoi­mo­ana) and her husband, Nate Kanale Sadow­ski, had been introduced by her uncle just a year earlier. They married after a whirlwind courtship but planned to hold off on having children right away so they could enjoy the adjustment to married life unencumbered.

Nonetheless, the young couple had come to appreciate their blessings, however they arrived.

The birth of the Sadow­skis’ first child nearly ended in tragedy. During the delivery, the baby’s heart stopped. Doctors quickly determined that the umbilical cord had somehow wrapped around the infant’s neck, and they were able to loosen it just enough for the delivery to be completed.

“As soon as he came out, he let out this huge, piercing cry,” Sadow­ski says.

And so the couple named the boy Haloa — “breath of life.”

That was six years ago. Today Haloa is a strong, energetic, inquisitive child whose enthusiasm for discovering new things is evident in his still-piercing voice. The couple have another son, 3-year-old Nanue, whom Sadow­ski regards as further vindication of her hard-earned worldview.

“All of these things happened for a reason,” Sadow­ski says. “When blessings come, they come in ripples.”


Reach Michael Tsai at

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