Toddler gets new kidney after a year of waitingby Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio
Here's an update to a story MPR first brought to you last November.
Dominik Lawson, 2, finally has a new kidney after waiting more than a year for a donor. He is now recovering at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, and if all goes well he could return to his family's home in Taconite in a few weeks.
Minneapolis — Dominik's mother Kelly Lawson is grateful that her son is doing well after the transplant surgery on May 22. She says his new kidney is functioning perfectly.
"He's done wonderfully. All the doctors are very impressed with all his labs and how he's tolerated everything, and the kidney is doing just a remarkable job," said Lawson.
Last April, Dominik's body rejected a kidney donated to him by his mother. That medical crisis left him with no kidneys.
Since then he has been living at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis, and receiving dialysis at the University of Minnesota hospital every other day, to filter impurities from his body.
His parents spent months searching for living kidney donors without success, until they met the Cousineau family from California last fall.
The Cousineaus were also staying at the Ronald McDonald House while their 9-year-old son Evan battled Adrenaleukodystrophy. Evan received a bone marrow transplant at the university, but he died a few weeks later from complications.
Despite her grief, Evan's 20-year-old sister Mary decided she should be tested to see if her kidneys were a match for Dominik.
Doctors estimated that only 3 percent of the population would be suitable donors for Dominik, since he had developed numerous antibodies after his kidney rejection. But it turned out that Mary was a match.
Kelly Lawson said it seemed too perfect to be just a matter of chance.
"I believe she was sent to us from God, and I think her brother Evan had a hand in it," said Lawson.
Mary Cousineau agreed.
"I would have never just randomly had my blood tested for someone in another state that I didn't know," said Cousineau. "But because I had that connection and had seen them at the Ronald McDonald house, and I definitely feel my brother was a huge part in this whole thing in bringing our families together. Yep, he was there the whole time."
Cousineau said she never had any doubt or fear about whether she should help Dominik. She added she would do it again in a heartbeat.
"To see him playing now, to know that he's playing because I gave him my kidney and he can play for the rest of his life, hopefully -- I mean it's just so exciting that I even had the opportunity," said Cousineau. "I just feel honored that I was able to do this for them."
Cousineau says this experience has made her decide to switch her college major from physical therapy to nursing. She will return to the University of Southern California in the fall to complete her senior year.
But even though Mary Cousineau lives halfway across the country from Dominik and his family, Kelly Lawson predicts they will see each other often.
"It's going to be a friendship that will go on till forever, because we made big plans," said Lawson. "We've got big plans to go to California at least once a year, and they're going to come to Minnesota. And her mom and I have decided to come together and just really promote bone marrow donation, because that was essentially Evan's only hope."
In the meantime, the Lawson family is waiting for Dominik to recover from his surgery so he can finally move back home to Taconite.
Kelly Lawson says her son has only had about five overnight visits to his home in the past 16 months.