Catalina “Cat” Aguinaga of Sacramento loves her job with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office as a Restitution Assistant. Cat helps victims of all misdemeanor crimes by giving them information regarding the losses they have suffered. Her office is also involved in the U.S. Health and Human Services’ donor awareness initiative, Workplace Program for Life. “I love the work that I do and I feel very strongly that I am helping my community the way I was helped by receiving my life-saving transplant that replaced my kidney and pancreas in March 1996. Because somebody gave me another chance at life, I now have a chance to prove what a wonderful thing organ transplantation can be.”
At just nine years old, Cat was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, which caused complications with her eyes, teeth, and eating. She had to take two insulin shots a day to stay alive. She missed many normal school activities because she was sick so often. Her kidneys finally gave out and she had to receive the life support of dialysis treatments.
But, then in March 1996 when she was 22 years old – Cat’s life changed with a four-hour surgery, which replaced her kidneys and pancreas.
“I’m no longer a diabetic,” says Cat. ” I no longer take insulin shots. I don’t test my blood sugars four times a day. I can eat anything I’d like without worrying about up and down blood sugars. That’s all due to my new pancreas. From the kidney I received, I no longer need dialysis three times a week, three hours a day. Life is good, thanks to the donor and donor family who gave me a second chance.”
Now, Cat, a bubbly, energetic young woman, and dedicated working professional swims, plays tennis and loves to chase her younger sister and brother around the house. “I can be a kid all over again and my parents love it.”
Cat has been given a fresh new start on life. Now she has the opportunity to make her future a reality – thanks to organ donation. It’s about giving life.