Alicia Lang, a 2010 Lakota West High School graduate, died from cystic fibrosis Friday, March 8 at the Cleveland Clinic, where she underwent a double-lung transplant on Feb. 11. She would have turned 21 on March 20.Lang’s story was featured in The Enquirer Feb. 22.
Despite being diagnosed with CF at age 5, Lang was a typical teenager who loved to play tennis and dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. She even named named her dog, Maria, a rottweiler-lab mix, after Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova. In August of 2008, Lang was able to met the tennis star at the U.S. Open in New York City through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
After trying out for the tennis team as a freshman at Lakota West, Lang had to quit the sport she loved when the oxygen level in her lungs started falling.
In the fall of her senior year of high school, Lang was evaluated by a doctor and told that she needed a double-lung transplant. After more than two years of waiting, she received new lungs in February. Furthermore, 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.
Those hardships, however, didn’t stop Lang from helping others. Despite her condition, Lang led a patient advisory group at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, where she spoke to patients about self-management of cystic fibrosis. She also shared her stories with staff, so they could better understand the human side of patient care.
“Alicia did touch many people,” said her father, Jim Lang of West Chester Township. “She could sit in front of a crowd and get down to their level to explain her ideas and feelings on any subject, especially health care improvement.’’
Last April, Lang and her father were presented the Making a Difference Award of by the Cincinnati Children’s. The father-daughter team was chosen from among 45 nominees for their work in advocating for patients and families dealing with cystic fibrosis.
While Lang helped out at Cincinnati Children’s, she was also involved with her family as they held numerous fundraisers to help defray costs associated with medical expenses and travel.
Days before the transplant surgery, Lang had to have a breathing tube inserted through her chest at Cincinnati Children’s and then air-cared to Cleveland.
After her transplant, which took six hours, at the Cleveland Clinic, doctors stressed that, even with a full recovery, Lang could never be vet or have another pet due to microorgaisms that they could carry.
“Alicia left us peacefully, was not alert and in no pain. We know she is now with her dog, Maria,” her father said.
In addition to her father, survivors include her mother, Mary Kay; her brother Nick, 18, a senior at Lakota West; her maternal grandparents, John and Jeanette Thomas; and her paternal grandparents, Jack and Nancy Lang.
Visitation is scheduled 4-8 p.m. Friday at Hodapp Funeral Home, 6410 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, Liberty Township. A funeral service will be held 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Vineyard Community Church, 11340 Century Circle East, Springdale. A celebration of life will follow after the funeral service.
Memorials: Alicia Lang Memorial Fund at any Fifth Third Bank branch or mail to: JTHF, PO Box, 1236 West Chester, OH 45071.