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Your Health: Organ donation saves teen’s life

Your Health: Organ donation saves teen’s life
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 4:46 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2022 at 5:24 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Someone on the organ transplant waiting list dies in the United States every 20 minutes.

Roughly 95% of Americans are in favor of being an organ donor, but only 54% are registered.

Dominic Lipka was an active teen and loved sports but in 2021, he started feeling exhausted.

“I couldn’t sit up,” Lipka said. “It was that bad.”

Dominic had to be rushed to the hospital. His system was giving out.

“He was coughing up blood and so he had respiratory insufficiency,” said Dr. Guillermo Hidalgo. “He needed to be intubated.”

“It was just really up in the air, watching him fight for his life,” said Joseph Lipka, his father.

Joseph, a single dad, stayed by his son’s side for 42 days. During that time, doctors diagnosed Dominic with lupus -- an autoimmune disease.

“They say the lupus usually goes after all the cells in your body while your kidneys carry the most cells in your body,” Joseph said. “It usually goes after the kidneys. So, it destroyed his kidneys.”

Dominic needed a kidney transplant. At 15 years old, he was one of the approximately 100,000 Americans in need of a kidney. About 22,000 kidney transplants take place annually, less than 25% of the patients in need.

Dominic received hemodialysis to stay alive, a procedure that does the work of the kidneys to clean the blood.

“He’s a strong kid,” Joseph said.

“I think it’s harder on my family than me,” said Dominic.

At the end of January, the family got the call they had been waiting for -- Dominic received a donor organ.

“Be thankful for every day you get that you’re healthy and your feet hit the ground in the morning,” Joseph said.

Doctors said Dominic is recovering and his energy levels are back to normal. He should be able to return to normal activities -- including baseball -- by the end of April.

He will need to take medications to control his lupus for the rest of his life.

Click here to learn more about organ donation and join the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.

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