At first, Dominika Woch thought her stomach ache was just a 24-hour bug that would go away in a day or two. But when the pain continued for a few weeks, she went to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center to get it checked out. A few tests and a kidney biopsy later, she got the news: At just 15 years old, she had been diagnosed with granulomatosis with polyangiitis (GPA).
GPA is characterized by inflamed blood vessels that can cause certain organs to stop working. When Dominika was diagnosed, both of her kidneys were functioning at about 50 percent.
The first round of treatment included chemotherapy and steroids for six months. That worked for a while, but Dominika experienced progressive renal failure over the course of four years and needed other options. In March 2016, she was introduced to the Hartford Hospital transplant team and she and her family began looking into her options.
Dominika’s mother, Sylwia Celi, was approved as a potential donor. In February 2017, she gave her daughter two gifts: a new kidney and a better life.
Today, Dominika has been living with her new kidney for six weeks and feeling better than ever. “Having a functioning organ has made a huge difference to my life,” she said. “I have more energy than I’ve had in four years. By the time summer comes, I’ll be able to go back to some of the things I really want to do.”
Dominika was lucky to have a match in the family, but many people waiting for an organ donation aren’t so lucky — that’s why it’s important to register as an organ donor.
“People who are thinking about becoming a donor should know that they can improve someone else’s life,” Dominika said. “I’m eternally grateful to my mom, and I know every recipient feels the same way. Everything we do after the transplant, we think of the person who donated to us.”