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Renewed hope for MS patient

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MEDINA — Just before Christmas, Katie Hominsky’s health was declining at a rapid pace.

But there have been several positive developments for the 32-year-old Medina woman, who was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in February 2010.

Medications used to treat the disease are no longer effective, she said. She’s been attempting to raise the funds needed for a hematopoietic stem cell transplant, or HSCT.

Previously, her health insurance company refused to pay for the $125,000 procedure, which is not approved by the Federal Drug Administration. Hominsky filed an appeal and found out recently that her insurance company has decided to pay for the procedure.

There still are many out-of-pocket fees, and fundraising efforts continue.

She is hoping to raise about $35,000.

Hominsky said she was so thankful last month when a Bill Doraty Kia staffer read about her plight in The Gazette and sprung into action.

“I was sitting at my desk and read it online in The Gazette,” said Bill Doraty Kia controller Charly Swain.

Swain printed the story and showed it to car dealership owner Shea Sohovich. He decided to donate a car to be auctioned off.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Swain said. “I read the article and it touched me. I mentioned it to Shea. He said, ‘This is more helpful than a golf outing. We have to do something.’

“It pulled at both Shea and I, and we had to do something to help.”

The donated car was auctioned off Dec. 11 at Akron Auto Auction, 2471 Ley Drive, Akron. J.D. Byrider purchased the used Kia Rio for $5,000. Akron Auto Auction then donated $1,000 for Hominsky’s cause.

People at the auction also raised $220.

“That was awesome,” Hominsky said. “The owner of J.D. Byrider’s mother was diagnosed last year (with MS).”

When Hominsky’s procedure was approved by her insurance company, she sent text messages to both Swain and Sohovich to let them know about the good news.

Hominsky’s fundraiser

Dec. 1 at Sidelines Sports Bar & Grill, 1165 Pearl Road, Brunswick, drew 135 people and raised nearly $5,000.

The biggest news, she said, was when her insurance company changed its mind about the procedure.

“My insurance doesn’t cover clinical trials,” Hominsky said. “They just don’t. But it said, ‘After further review of your situation and symptoms, we have decided to overturn the appeal and cover the procedure.’”

The insurance company won’t pay 100 percent of the costs.

Her MS has progressed: She suffers from extreme fatigue, numbness, tingling, heat intolerance, cognitive issues, memory loss, bladder issues, vision problems, vertigo and tremors, among other problems.

The HSCT is said to stop disease progression of people with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.

HSCT is the transplantation of multipotent hematopoietic stem cells, which come from her own bone marrow. This is a very invasive treatment that also involves a regiment of highly potent chemotherapy. The procedure will be performed at Northwestern Medicine University Hospital in Chicago.

“It’s intimidating and it’s expensive,” Hominsky said.

She said pretesting will be done March 11-13. Mobilization will be March 18-30, when she will get a “blast of chemo,” Hominsky said.

Doctors will harvest her stem cells March 28.

The actual process will begin April 9.

“It will be five days of chemo to wipe out my immune system,” Hominsky said. “It completely wipes it out. It kills the MS.”

Doctors will put the “clean” stem cells back in her body April 15 to “reboot my immune system,” she said. “They call it Day Zero.”

Hominsky is part of a “sisterhood” of five women who met through Facebook and all have had or will have stem cell transplants. All of the women are from Northeast Ohio, including Keri Huff and Anna Wise of Medina, Chelsea Piszczek of Berea and Bonnie McKenzie of Roots-town. All appear to be recovering well, Hominsky said.

Hominsky said she will be off from work for six to

18 months for recovery. She is a business development manager at Concept, formerly Concept Services, 1153 Medina Road, Suite 100, Granger Township. Often, she uses needs a cane.

“(The time off) will give my body time to heal,” she said.

Hominsky and her husband, Tony, have seven children. She has an 11-year-old son, Vinny, and her husband has six children from a previous marriage.

A Facebook page, Katie’s Hope Journey to END her MS, has been established for friends and relatives to keep up with her journey. There is also a gofundme page, gofundme.com/katie039s-hope-journey-hsct-for-ms that has raised more than $10,000.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.

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