Youngstown State University Honors College held a talent show to raise money for YSU alumni Danielle Bozek, who is in need of a kidney transplant.
Honors College director Amy Cossentino said it held its talent show every year to raise money for Relay for Life. However, this year was different because they were aware of Bozek’s need.
Cossentino said the college holds many other events, such as lectures and volunteer opportunities. She also said the Honors College students’ idea of a successful event is not quantified by how many people attended or how much money was made.
“We evaluate based upon the value added to the undergraduate education,” Cossentino said.
Brandon Maffitt, sophomore in music education, is Bozek’s younger brother. He said he is overjoyed with the support YSU is showing, especially the Honors College.
He said other events are planned to help his sister, such as a laptop sticker sale and a spaghetti dinner in April.
Bozek said she is an open book when it comes to talking about her condition. She has Gitelman Syndrome (GS), a condition that causes her kidneys to filter out important chemicals the body needs to function. She was around age 13 when she was diagnosed with GS and has suffered a series of problems since her diagnosis.
“From the ages of 13 to 28 it was managed with large quantities of medication, mainly potassium,” Bozek said. “The pills ended up causing problems that didn’t allow me to take the medication orally.”
Thereafter, Bozek had to take potassium through an IV, for which she had to be hospitalized to better control the amount. During March of 2017 she began using a medical device that gave her IV infusions 24/7.
Bozek said that worked until her port became infected and caused endocarditis, an infection in the heart.
“They replaced my port with a catheter … after a couple of months the catheter had to be removed,” Bozek said. “It was forming a giant clot in my heart. Then the topic of a transplant came up.”
She said as far as she is aware, a kidney transplant has never been attempted to cure GS. Her condition also is not considered to be a traditional form of kidney failure, so she cannot be added to the UNOS transplant waitlist. She needs a live donor and monetary donations to receive her transplant.
Bozek is currently in medical school and her condition has been the driving force of her education.
“I decided to become an expert in my disease and taught myself to read medical articles, with the dream of one day finding a cure,” she said. “I fell in love with science and medicine.”
Bozek said even with the various hospitalizations she has endured during the process of getting her education, she has not given up.
“It’s a never ending game of catch up and as soon as I do, something else happens and I’m behind again,” she said. “I will not graduate on time and will not be applying to residency with all of my friends. Surprisingly, I’m okay with it and I’m beginning to learn there is no rush.”
The spaghetti dinner will be April 6 from 2 to 6 p.m. at Warren G. Harding High School. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Donations can be sent here: