I want to introduce you to an amazing young man who will change the way you look at the world.
Jacob Kilby is a young, 19 year old local San Diego surfer who is facing a major health challenge. You often hear about many children and adults that are battling cancer or diabetes, but congenital heart defects seem to be few and far between. Heart disease is a major problem for both the new, young, and mature people of the world. Many times when you do hear about unhealthy hearts it’s in reference to a person who has lived many years and perhaps did not treat their heart as good as they should of. Those stories that start with a newborn baby who will have his first open heart surgery at the age of 5 days old are not plastered all over the media. I want to make a difference for the San Diego community and possibly beyond, by educating and promoting organ donation awareness through the story of Jacob Kilby’s heart.
Jacob was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome where the left side of his heart did not fully develop. This is a rare condition that is one of those congenital diseases that we don’t know how or why develops in a certain fetus. We can’t blame it on how a woman treated her body or what she did or did not eat while pregnant. It’s an unfortunate circumstance that happens and Jacob was born on Sept. 8 1995 with this disease. He was born strong and ready to take on the four open heart surgery attempts at fixing his heart, all of which failed. Jacob was very lucky to receive a life-saving heart transplant in 1998 that saved him just in the nick of time.
Jacob has lived a wonderful life. He was able to do almost anything any other boy his age could. Despite the daily doses of anti-rejection meds and the numerous doctor visits, Jacob sailed through school and was liked by everyone. His family adores him and treasures him as if he were a diamond. His smile shines so bright that he truly must be a treasure. So, the news of his need for a new heart came as a devastating shock to all of us, including him just a few months ago.
As the days have passed, I have learned a great deal about the world of organ transplantation. I learned that Jacob is on the wait list at a stage “2” where he really has no chance of getting a new heart. Those who receive organs are those who are on the list the longest and those who are the sickest. So, I guess things haven’t changed in that respect in the 17 years that he’s had his donor heart. His family watched his frail little body diminish and lose oxygen right before our eyes. And here we are again.
The amount of organs available for transplant is not even closely comparable to the amount of people on the wait list in need of an organ. There are currently 123,000 people nation-wide on the national organ transplant wait list. Eight people die every day waiting for an organ that will never come. Millions of families wait in agony every day, never knowing if their loved one even has a future. Please help us create more opportunities for more futures for people with congenital heart defects like Jacob Kilby.