Aldo Dominguez - Teacher Needs Kidney From Someone With A Heart
Aldo Dominguez doesn't let much get in his way. Like other young men, Dominguez traveled when he could, had a personal trainer to help him keep fit, and socialized with his friends.
But the 39-year-old ESL teacher at Yonkers' School 9 in lower Westchester county, who immigrated to the United States from Cuba as a four and a half-year-old child, has already had two kidney transplants and is currently awaiting his third. On dialysis for the past year, since his kidney failed, his life is now more circumscribed by his illness.
"I don't feel like myself," he says. "I'm on the list for a transplant, and basically wait until a match comes up."
His family came to the States in the hopes of obtaining better medical care for Dominguez. As a very young child, he had spent as much as a year in the hospital. His first language was Spanish, but because of the hospitalizations, Dominguez picked up English from the doctors and nurses who took care of him.
By the time Dominguez received his first transplant at the age of 14, he had dealt with the consequences of a misdiagnosis of his condition at birth, and coped with six months of undergoing dialysis before the transplant. Determined to move ahead, Dominguez-who attended parochial school and Catholic high school in Yonkers-went to school even when he was sick, receiving home tutoring only for a brief three to four month period.
He went on to Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, where he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology with a minor in sociology, as well as a master's in human resources management, and then to Fordham University for his master's in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages. Education was an accidental career choice.
"I kind of fell into education by chance," Dominguez says, who has been working in Yonkers since 1997. "Human resources is a hard field to get into. I had a friend who was a New York City teacher for years, who said that they need teachers in the city. I started at a junior high in the city, as a bi-lingual special education teacher."
Undaunted by his on-going renal disease, Dominguez has learned to live with it. "Due to the medications I've been on, I have arthritis in both ankles and one hand," he says. His school has been supportive, with staff members organizing a dance-a-thon during the spring to raise awareness about organ donation. While his classroom is on the second floor of the building, meaning that Dominguez only goes up the stairs once a day, he's been given an aide who brings the children to the classroom.
The first two transplants lasted about 12 years each; since last year, Dominguez has had to miss a lot of school because of his illness, which has placed him back on dialysis. Still, he does his best to go to school, and receive dialysis three afternoons a week after school. Although he has a driver's license, Dominguez doesn't feel comfortable driving while he's on dialysis (he has a catheter in his neck, and admits that sometimes his blood pressure drops), so his mother, now retired, drives him back and forth from work and dialysis.
Under the care of Dr. Gerald Appel, a nephrologist at Columbia Presbyterian hospital, for over 20 years, Dominguez has continued to pursue his ambitions and dreams. Dominguez hopes to ultimately "get a Ph.D. in psychology and help children with chronic illness."#
If you or someone you know would like to be a kidney donor, please call Dr. Gerald Appel at 212-305-3273.
Next month! An article by an altrustic living kidney donor.