By Annette Baird | November 12, 2013
Jacob Ladyga, 16, has been tired – tired of feeling unwell, tired of his special diet and tired of waiting to feel well. His only kidney, which he received at age 4 from his dad, is failing due to chronic renal disease.
The waiting, however, will soon be over for this Westside High School sophomore. On Nov. 22, Jacob is scheduled for a kidney transplant, courtesy of his aunt and godmother Patricia “Pat” Hammond, bringing with it the promise of a new lease on life.
“I think I’m very lucky,” Jacob said of his aunt’s gift. “It’s hard to find a donor – we found one pretty quickly.”
The transplant comes at significant monetary cost, which is why friends and family are pitching in to help defray out-of-pocket expenses, such as parking, medications and co-pays for Jacob and his aunt.
To aid Jacob, who lives in Walnut Bend, Dinah and Bill Kelley of West Houston are leading the effort to raise $50,000 through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, an agency that helps families like Jacob’s with fundraising, support and community awareness.
A Nov. 18 golf tournament and auction and a Dec. 7 family softball event are planned.
“We’ve seen Jacob struggle since we met him,” said Dinah Kelley, who got to know the Ladyga family through their sons’ baseball activities. “We’ve become real fond of him, and we want to be there for him and his family.”
Kelley pointed out that Jacob will continue to need treatment in some form or other for the rest of his life.
Jacob was born with only one barely functioning kidney, but after his first transplant he was able to live pretty much a normal life, albeit with daunting complications and on many medications.
The medications have retarded his growth – he is only 5 feet tall – and he has undergone multiple hip and knee surgeries.
Nevertheless, Jacob, an only child, has done well in school.
He was identified as gifted and talented and is in the prestigious Westside Engineering and Geosciences Academy.
He plays baseball for the school, participated in a number of sports growing up and is a proud Boy Scout.
“Jacob has never considered himself sick,” Donna Ladyga said. “He’s never held himself back. He’s very competitive, which is all a blessing.”
“We don’t have the ‘poor me’ syndrome here,” David Ladyga said.
By the end of the eighth grade, Jacob’s kidney was starting to fail, and over the ensuing 18 months he has required more treatments and hospitalizations.
To help his kidney function, he has been on immunosuppressants, which have caused lethargy and puffiness in his face. He’s also taking drugs to treat high blood pressure.
Jacob’s deteriorating condition prompted an application for a “preemptive” transplant through Texas Children’s Hospital. After a third review in October, Jacob was finally approved for a transplant.
While Donna Ladyga wasn’t able to donate a kidney due to a genetic condition, a good match was found in her sister.
After the surgery, Jacob is expected to recover enough to return to school by the end of January.
Meanwhile, he will continue his studies through Westside’s online program and no doubt tuck into some of his previously off-limits favorite foods – pizza and Mexican.
The golf event starts at noon Nov. 18 at The Club at Falcon Point golf course, 24503 Falcon Point Drive, Katy.
To sign up, contact Chris Kuenning at Chrisk@metronational.com or 713-973-3546.
The softball event is on Dec. 7 at Memorial Ashford Little League, 12900 Westmere.
For more information about the activities or to make a donation, visit www.COTAforTeamJacobL.com.