Lightning strike sends immigrant across the world to help others cross over

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Frezgi Hiskias works through chronic pain to care for patients at Our Lady of Peace, where he feels he is called by God to care for the dying, with empathy for their pain and suffering. Together with his colleagues, Frezgi helps terminally ill people pass with love, respect, and compassion. 

Frezgi was struck by lightning in Africa as a child. Since that time, he has endured five surgeries, including a procedure to lengthen one of his legs that didn’t grow properly. Refusing to take medication for chronic pain because it will inhibit his ability to care for patients, Frezgi applies acupressure to his back by pushing on the handrails in the hallway. He also continuously prays that God will give him the strength to do what he’s called him to do. Frezgi admits that over the years, there have been many days where he felt like dying because of the pain he experiences but he offers encouragement to his patients to cherish every moment of life.

Portrait of Frezgi Hiskias
Frezgi Hiskias

Born in Eritrea, East Africa, Frezgi was 13 when he was struck by lightning, sitting alongside his cousin, who died from the strike. With burns covering his body and internal damage, he made a 12-hour journey on a mule to get help. He endured excruciating pain to make his way to a natural healer, where he found some relief. Committed to the life of a nomadic herdsman and farmer and with no medical doctor in his village, Frezgi continued to work without medical care for the next three years.

At age 16, Frezgi moved to Ethiopia to begin a new life with his sister and her husband. There he met Al and Betty Johnson from Edina, MN, missionaries for the World Vision Organization. They connected Frezgi with an Orthopedic Surgeon from the US, who was working in Ethiopia. This lead to the idea of going to America, where he would have access to medical care and education. The Johnsons coordinated the visa process for Frezgi to go to America, which was sponsored by Falcon Heights United Church-Christ and Memorial hospital in Cambridge, MN. The move was life-changing.

Frezgi enrolled Adult High School program in Roseville, MN and earned his diploma. From there, he attended the University of Minnesota earned health and wellness degree, and Century College where he earned his nursing degree. After working in nursing positions in other locations, he made his way to Our Lady of Peace, where he has served for 15 years. Frezgi is Nursing Supervisor in residential care, setting the tone for honoring patients with unity and compassion.

Frezgi Hiskias received the 2019 Outstanding Nurse in Hospice Care Award from Mpls. St.Paul Magazine. His colleagues at Our Lady of Peace describe him as “amazing,” with a gift for caring for the dying. And, on the first Thursday of the month, Frezgi pays his final respects to his patients by playing the song of the herdsman on his flute at a service of remembrance, honoring all who passed the month before.

In addition to our 21-bed hospice residence, experienced health care professionals like Frezgi can also come to you. Our Lady of Peace is honored to provide Hospice care wherever you call home.

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