Alicia Lang was your typical teenager who loved to play tennis. She played for her eighth grade team, tried out for the freshman team at Lakota West and even named her dog Maria after tennis star Maria Sharapova.
Lang, who is fighting cystic fibrosis, made only two hospital trips as an eighth grader. However, as a freshman in high school, the oxygen level in her lungs started falling. She was in the hospital constantly and eventually doctors told her, “we have done everything we can do; the next step is the (double-lung) transplant.”
Now, Lang, who hasn’t picked up a tennis racket in about a year, has lungs that function at only 30 percent of the normal rate.
Due to her condition, doctors told her that she couldn’t pursue her dream of becoming a veterinarian. Moments after being told she couldn’t be a vet tech, her dog, Maria, passed away.
Cystic fibrosis was also limiting her time in school. She did, however, graduate from Lakota West in 2010, but could only go to two or three classes a day as a senior. The rest of her work was done online.
Alicia’s father, Jim, would like to see his daughter attend college, but that is on hold for right now as the family hopes to get the donated lungs this year.
Currently, she is listed for a double-lung transplant at Loyola in Chicago and at the Cleveland Clinic. The transplant could take place this summer, but could be scheduled for a later date depending on when donated lungs become available.
Jim Lang is anticipating around $250,000 in bills that will not be covered by their insurance, which covers 80 percent of the cost.
In order to raise funds, the charity “Alicia’s Lungs” will be having fundraisers throughout the year.
Most recently, there was a fundraiser held at Lakota West High School just prior to the boys’ basketball game against Lakota East, Jan. 25.
After expenses, the family was able to raise $3,010 at the event that featured a spaghetti dinner, a bake sale and silent auctions.
“With the help of our great community, Alicia will get new lungs,” Jim Lang said after the event.
Upcoming fundraising events include a tennis outing at the Riverside Athletic Club in Hamilton in early April, a charity walk at Lakota West May 7 and a motorcycle ride at Tri-County Harley-Davidson in Fairfield June 11.
After the events and the surgery, Alicia will have to stay in a hotel room for 6-to-12 weeks as she recovers.
After she recovers, Alicia’s goal is to play tennis again.
For now, Alicia is taking it one day at time and sharing her story through Facebook with other cystic fibrosis patients who have undergone double-lung transplants.
Alicia’s brother Nick also suffers from cystic fibrosis. However, Nick doesn’t have any problems with his lungs and is on the Lakota West High School tennis team. Last year, as a freshman, Lang won 13 of his 14 matches.
While Nick has full function of his lungs, he does suffer from a weak digestive system due to the condition. Both he and his sister have to take enzymes and have trouble digesting food.
Parents Jim and Mary Kay Lang don’t have cystic fibrosis, but both carry the gene. Neither knew they were a carrier until Alicia was diagnosed when she was five years old (at the time, Nick, who was three, was also diagnosed). Doctors told the parents that they had a 25 percent chance of passing it on to their children.
Currently, most cases are diagnosed shortly after birth.
There are eight ways people can help Alicia’s fight against cystic fibrosis:
- Donate at any Fifth Third Bank
- Become a committee member
- Volunteer for an upcoming event
- Attend the upcoming events
- Buy and sell raffle tickets
- Bid on auction items online and at events
- Become an organ donor
- Spread the word about Alicia
For more on Alicia’s story, visit aliciaslungs.com.