ENTERTAINMENT

Polish Athlete Auctions Olympic Medal To Pay For Infant's Life-Saving Heart Surgery

"This silver can save lives, instead of collecting dust in a closet," Maria Andrejczyk said.

Just over a month after she won silver at the Tokyo Olympics for the javelin throw, Polish athlete Maria Andrejczyk auctioned off her medal to the highest bidder for $125,000.

The cause: life-saving heart surgery for Miłoszek Małysa, an 8-month-old born with a critical congenital heart defect called total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPVR).

In a social media post translated from Polish by ESPN, Andrejczyk explained how the “amazing parents” of another boy who needed surgery but died before he could have the operation will contribute the money they raised for their own son to Miłoszek.

“I also want to help,” Andrejczyk said, adding, “It’s for him that I am auctioning my Olympic silver medal.”

According to a fundraising page for the infant, Miłoszek is currently at home and receiving hospice care as his condition deteriorates. After the infant’s family was unable to find a European hospital to operate on him, the page says, Stanford University Medical Center in California became their “last hope.”

Andrejczyk said the surgery is expected to cost upwards of $385,000. A spokesperson at the hospital didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Maria Andrejczyk of Poland reacts during the award ceremony at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Aug. 7, 2021.
Maria Andrejczyk of Poland reacts during the award ceremony at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Aug. 7, 2021.

In a twist, the winner of the silver medal auction, the Polish grocery store chain Żabka, refused to accept the medal. The company said it was just happy to support the athlete’s “noble gesture.”

Andrejczyk wrote that the medal “is a symbol of struggle, faith and pursuit of dreams despite many odds.”

That’s not just soaring rhetoric. Andrejczyk missed the bronze medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics by just 2 centimeters, then battled back into shape after a 2018 bone cancer diagnosis.

“A medal is only an object, but it can be of great value to others,” the 25-year-old told Eurosport Poland in a segment translated by NBC News.

“This silver can save lives, instead of collecting dust in a closet. That is why I decided to auction it to help sick children.”