When the school year began this fall, Brainerd High School senior Aaron Dosh had much to look forward to: hanging out with friends, going on the A Capella Choir trip to Los Angeles this spring - to name a few possibilities.
But about a month into the school year, on Sept. 30, Aaron's life took a dramatic turn, transforming his senior year - and his life - forever.
Aaron was diagnosed with end stage acute renal failure. He is in the process of being placed on a national waiting list to receive a kidney and, in the meantime, undergoes dialysis after school three days a week for four hours at a time.
"I was just in shock," said Kathi Dosh of her son's diagnosis.
Aaron Dosh waited Wednesday as certified technician Jennifer Michalson made adjustments to his port during one of his four-hour dialysis appointments at the CentraCare Kidney program at the Brainerd Medical Center. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Aaron had been seeing a doctor for what seemed to be stomach problems for about a year but soon after school started Aaron's choir director, Brian Stubbs, noticed Aaron's color didn't look very good and mentioned it. Kathi, who had noticed it too, said when Aaron went in for an already scheduled appointment on Sept. 30 blood tests revealed his kidneys were failing. He was sent immediately to the emergency room at St. Joseph's Medical Center, then airlifted to the University of Minnesota Medical Center Fairview.
"He was scared to death," said Kathi. "He had just lost his dad a year and a half ago."
Aaron's father, Gary, went into cardiac arrest at home and died hours later at St. Cloud Hospital on June 19, 2008. He was 58.
He left behind Aaron, his wife, Kathi, and their 19-year-old daughter, Ali.
It was a difficult time, but Kathi took some comfort in that Gary wanted to be an organ donor and, in death, he was able to help others. His eyes, skin and long bones of his legs were able to be donated to people who needed them, she said.
Now the Dosh family is in need of a kidney for Aaron.
"I feel like Gary helped someone and I hope someone will help us," Kathi said.
Aaron was hospitalized at the university hospital from Sept. 30 through Oct. 6, when he was allowed to return home. He turned 18 on Oct. 9.
The family has been encouraged by Aaron's doctors to find a live donor willing to give a kidney to Aaron, rather than a cadaver kidney. They put a call out on Aaron's CaringBridge.org Web page for family and friends to consider getting tested to see if there is a match. Kathi said doctors want a younger donor for Aaron so many of their family members, including herself, wouldn't make a good match.
Aaron Dosh, a Brainerd High School senior, sang Friday during choir rehearsal. Dosh was diagnosed Sept. 30 with kidney failure and needs a kidney. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Aaron's sister, Ali, a 2007 BHS graduate, is studying to be a nurse at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. She will soon be tested to see if she is a match for Aaron.
"I have a lot of mixed emotions," said Kathi. "Both my babies will be in the hospital at the same time. It's scary."
But Kathi said Ali is adamant that she donate a kidney to her brother if she's able and it's something she doesn't think she could talk Ali out of, even if she tried.
Aaron drives himself after school three days a week to his dialysis appointments at the CentraCare Kidney Program in the basement of the Brainerd Medical Center. His mom, a Forestview teaching assistant, joins him when she's off work.
He is usually the youngest dialysis patient by far and often does his homework or watches television during the four-hour process. He has a port implanted in his chest, which is hooked up to a dialysis machine and cleans waste and unwanted water from his blood.
Aaron is on a strict diet and has lost 62 pounds so far. He said his outlook on life has changed.
"I think I'm a happier person because of it," Aaron explained. "I care way more, I think about what I say before saying it."
Aaron is now considering a career as a registered nurse with a goal of working with dialysis patients.
Kathi said her coworkers have been very supportive. In less than three days, Forestview staff collected $1,000 to help her with expenses. She also works at Caribou Coffee in Baxter where the manager is working on three separate fundraisers for Aaron, including a dinner benefit and dance for adults, a pizza party with a deejay for teens and $2 from every pound of reindeer coffee sold at the Baxter store will go toward the Dosh family.
Kathi said she feels her late husband is helping from above, protecting their son during his health crisis.
"I think Gary's been watching us the whole time," said Kathi. "I think he's up there watching over his son."
To stay updated on Aaron's health and his search for a kidney, as well as to post messages of support for him and his family, visit his CaringBridge.org Web site at www.caringbridge.org/visit/aarondosh.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.