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Benefit to aid ailing woman

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

In a matter of months, Erica Matinsky and Liam Kinser met, fell in love, and got married. They quickly discovered what “for better or worse” means when Erica received the devastating news that her pancreas and kidneys were failing.

After a diagnosis of diabetes at age 10, Erica, a 1998 graduate of Monessen High School, has had some medical challenges, but the news came as a shock. Erica, who worked in dialysis at Fresenius Medical, never imagined her own organs would fail. Fortunately, Erica was able to receive a combined kidney and pancreas transplant in September 2012 at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh.

With the whirlwind of a wedding, medical diagnosis and transplant behind them, Liam and Erica now face the obstacle of the still growing medical expenses. Liam, a 2002 graduate of South Allegheny High School, works in HVAC for Climatech, but the couple's single income now makes the medical bills all the more challenging.

As with anyone who has received a transplant, Erica's recovery is not a simple one. There are good days and bad days, according to family members. The anti-rejection medication is tough on her body, possibly contributing to stomach issues she is experiencing. Erica was recently hospitalized due to low blood count, as well. She has since been released, but the couple is struggling.

Family and friends have been supportive of the couple and are organizing a benefit to help defray some of the costs.

The benefit will be held April 27 at The Boston Waterfront, 2422 St. David Drive, in Boston, Pa. Doors will open at 6 p.m. and admission is $5. The event will feature live music, door prizes, raffle prizes, food, beer specials, a 50/50 drawing, and surprises.

The benefit has been organized mainly by Liam's cousin Mike Soltis, of Belle Vernon, and Mike's friend Mandi Niedzwecki, whom Mike credits for most of the planning.

Family and friends of Erica and Liam hope many will attend the event to support the couple. They hope the event will not only help ease their financial burdens, but will strengthen them in their journey to Erica's full recovery.

Anyone with questions regarding the event can contact Soltis at 412-589-0100 or send an e-mail to

Miranda J. Startare is a freelance writer.