WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com)— A 22-year-old San Gabriel man is clinging to life while he waits for a double lung transplant.
Jake Bigley, who recently graduated from Gonzaga University, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as an infant.
He’s always been active and recovered, but when he returned home to Monrovia, he took a turn for the worse.
“His oxygen saturation plummeted to a point where we had to bring him to the hospital,” said Jake’s father, Thomas. “Still with the idea and thought that a round of antibiotics would be it and he’d be well on his way.”
Now on a machine to breathe at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Jake’s in desperate need of a lung transplant.
“The most difficult part of it is the wait. They don’t make lungs here, they don’t make hearts,” said Thomas.
Dr. Abbas Ardehali, the director of the transplant program, said, “Despite the advances in medicine, we have a limited period of time that patients can be kept alive on machines and he has a few more days of being a candidate for transplant.”
Ardehali said Jake needs a brain-dead donor of any age or size, something the Bigley family said they know is difficult to ask.
They hope Jake’s story encourages more people to register as organ donors before families are forced to make life-altering decisions.
“One person can help eight people. It’s pretty staggering how much good they can do,” said Thomas.
“You kind of think, ‘Oh, I’ll do that later.’ In circumstances like this, there is no later. Jake needs transplants now,” said Jake’s sister, Elise.
In the meantime, the family is holding out for a miracle.
“He knows that we’re here, he knows the support he has out here, and he’s fighting so hard, and because he’s fighting, we are fighting, too,” said Elise.