Jim Ott's Blog

This blog is a collection of columns I've written for Bay Area News Group newspapers serving the East San Francisco Bay region.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sometimes life comes out of left field

A version of this column appeared in the Bay Area News Group papers on September 2, 2010

Early in 2009, our family learned that our daughter Kelsey, then 13, was experiencing rapid kidney failure.

This is the girl who at age 10 had titanium rods inserted along her spine to correct scoliosis.

The same girl whose heart doctors opened at age 3 to repair a leaky valve.

As if these challenges weren’t enough, Kelsey was born with a genetic condition called Jeune Syndrome that makes her small for her age and restricts her lung capacity. Unlike her dad, she’ll likely never run marathons.

So last summer Kelsey went on dialysis at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. And thanks to the incredible generosity of her aunt Theresa, Kelsey received a new kidney just one month later in July 2009.

Today Kelsey is doing well and feeling healthy, so when she was invited by the hospital to the August 21 Oakland A’s baseball game with her family, she said she’d love to go.

In the days before the game, we learned more details. This wasn’t just any baseball outing. In fact, Kelsey had a special task to complete just before the game.

Enter Rob Combi of Lafayette, whose son Cole has received two kidney transplants. Combi connected with Oakland A’s vice president Jim Leahey with the idea of having the A’s promote organ donation. They enlisted the support of A’s catcher Landon Powell, who will one day need a liver transplant. Called Donate Life Night, the theme for the evening was organ donation, with $4 of each ticket donated to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

To kick off the game, Combi and Leahy arranged for five children who’d received transplants to run onto the field to a designated player.

So after enjoying an afternoon barbecue and spending time with doctors and medical staff who had also been invited to the game, the kids donned A’s shirts and were given a pen and baseball to be signed by their player. Cole Combi was selected to throw out the first pitch.

From Kelsey’s blog, here’s what happened next: “Finally, we were at the edge of the field. I asked many questions because I did not want to run to the wrong place. And so, when we were told to run, I ran to left field.”

Kelsey explains that for some reason her player wasn’t there, so she was directed to run to center field. She continues, “I got to the player I was assigned to. I didn't know much about the A's, but afterward I realized I was standing next to Rajai Davis during the National Anthem. He signed my baseball, and I ran back.”

After we got to our seats, Kelsey expressed concern she’d run to the wrong place on the field. But soon she realized that many kids would love to say they ran from left field to center field in the Oakland Coliseum.

Needless to say, Kelsey has learned to keep life in perspective.

In her blog, she reminds us to be thankful for our health. She writes about kids who are waiting for livers, kidneys, and hearts. “And yes, even intestines,” she writes. “I know of a little boy who was in need of intestines.”

Also needless to say, our family now has a favorite team: the Oakland A’s.

And Kelsey’s story, along with the stories of those kids who ran onto the field that late afternoon, are why we all need to sign up to become organ donors.

“Most adults complain,” Kelsey writes. “Please, next time you run out of gas, your cell phone runs out of battery, or you get called for jury duty, remember: while you're getting called for jury duty, some kids are getting called for chemotherapy.”

To be ready to save someone’s life, visit www.ctdn.org.

1 comment:

she said...

a magnificent, wonderful, beautiful story & healthy reminder for us all

God bless! all around,

love, ~s.