CJ & Moises

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 "I am grateful to New England Donor Services for facilitating my opportunity to meet the folks that were saved by my son's tragedy. "

~ Moises - Dominick's Dad

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CJ's Story

My connection to donation is that I received a heart transplant from a young man from Willimantic, CT. I was in end-of-life heart failure when I received the most amazing phone call on July 13, 2020. That phone call was from my doctor telling me that I was about to get the greatest gift, that gift was a new heart. I was going to live. My family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors had been praying for this miracle for months, and the time had finally come.

 

The doctors were not able to give me much information on who the donor was. I did not know the age, gender, or even where they came from. The transplant was successful and after heading home, I decided to sit down and pen a letter to the family. I spoke of my gratitude, how thankful I was for another shot at life, and of my desire to meet them. Waiting with anticipation for a response, I received an envelope from New England Donor Services on October 15, 2020, four months and two days after my transplant. There were two letters enclosed. The first  was from AfterCare Caring Connections describing and introducing the second letter from the father of my heart donor. I welled with emotion and was scared to open the letter. Yet I tore into it taking great care not to disturb anything in hopes of keeping this letter as an important treasure. The letter shared his gratitude that I reached out  and also offered well wishes. More importantly, it had his phone number and I called right away.

 

I had received the heart of Dominick, Moises' son. Since that first call, we have become a connected family and we speak at least weekly. Not only did I receive Dominick's heart, but I also received the gift of a beautiful extended family. 

 

New England Donor Services and Donate Life Connecticut work together to help Connecticut residents register their wishes to be a donor.  At the time of Dominick’s passing, his decision to save lives through the gifts of organ donation was in fact realized and his wishes carried out. As an organ recipient, I sometimes struggle with guilt and regret. However, with Dominick's gift I feel that I am an extension of his life and I choose to be grateful for that.

Moises' Story

My son Dominick was a 27-year old young man, a father of a son, and a stepfather to a daughter. Dominick had five sisters, and a brother on my side, and a brother and sister on his mother's side. He was loved by everyone who knew him.

 

Tragically, Dominick was taken from us on July 7, 2020. We had hopes that he would come through this tragedy but unfortunately, we had to make a tough decision only a few days later. Dominick's everlasting wish was to be an organ donor. He chose to register as a donor at the DMV when he first got his license. Dominick's choice created the opportunity to save many lives. On July 13, 2020, Dominick's heart, both kidneys, his liver, and his lungs were recovered and transplanted into 5 recipients. 

 

I first met CJ Fitzwater, Dominick's heart transplant recipient in October of 2020. I traveled to his home over two hours away in Massachusetts and we spent the day with his family. CJ visited my family a few weeks later. We have spoken weekly since meeting and have built a very strong relationship.

 

I later had the opportunity to meet the right kidney recipient, and spoke to the left kidney recipient by phone. It has been very important for me to meet these people and know that Dominick lives on.

 

I am grateful to New England Donor Services for facilitating my opportunity to meet the folks that were saved by my son's tragedy. 

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