Six months into 2013, I thought it would be a good time to share WestChesterBuzz’s best human-interest stories in West Chester and Liberty Township so far this year. By reading through this weeklong series, it will be easy to tell why this community is so special.
Community loses Lang after double-lung transplant
For more than two years, the West Chester and Liberty Township community has rallied behind 2010 Lakota West graduate Alicia Lang. With that help, by way of emotional and financial support through numerous fundraisers, Lang finally received a double-lung transplant on Feb. 11.
Less than a month later, Lang lost her fight with cystic fibrosis. She passed away Friday, March 8 at the Cleveland Clinic. She would have turned 21 on March 20.
Despite being diagnosed with CF at age 5, Lang grew up as 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 meet 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 in 2009, Lang was evaluated by a doctor and told that she needed a double-lung transplant. 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.’’
In April of 2012, Lang and her father were presented the Making a Difference Award by 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.
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, a 2013 Lakota West; her maternal grandparents, John and Jeanette Thomas; and her paternal grandparents, Jack and Nancy Lang.