Indian Lake Middle School teacher Jana Core remembers when her cousin, city native Todd DeLong, was a bright five-year-old and attended classes with her at The Ohio State University.
She said he listened intently to her professor, and then he had his chance to shine.
“The professor asked if there were any questions, he raised his hand and the professor called on him. Imagine the rest of us when the professor answered and said, ‘Why can’t any of you ask meaningful questions like that?’” Core said with a laugh.
The inquisitive young man went on to graduate seventh in his class from Bellefontaine High School in 1992. Now several decades later, DeLong’s local family members are rallying around him and asking the public for help in seeking a potential kidney donor.
DeLong, 46, who now resides in Parma with his wife, Holly, was placed on the kidney transplant waiting list in December 2016 after he was diagnosed earlier that year with chronic kidney disease and stage three kidney failure.
Several family members, including DeLong’s cousin Julie Whitehead of Bellefontaine, have been tested, and so far, no suitable match has been found for a kidney donor.
“We are just scared and devastated by this,” Core said. “If you can help or know anyone that would be willing to help, we would owe you for the rest of our lives. He lost his father last year and his mom (my aunt) is petrified she will lose him also.”
He is a son of Maralyn DeLong of Bellefontaine, who is retired from Bellefontaine City Schools, and the late Jim DeLong, a Honda of America Mfg. at Marysville retiree, his family related.
The Parma resident said that it was at a routine eye exam 4 1/2 years ago that pointed to his underlying health issues. He was told he should see his physician after signs of high blood pressure were detected.
After completing blood work with his physician, DeLong was informed in June 2016 that he was in stage three kidney failure.
“I had scarring on my kidneys and they did not know why. I had never had any accidents or other difficulties that would cause kidney issues,” said the dedicated Cleveland Cavaliers fan, who never misses a game, and who also attended Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University after high school.
He and his wife, Holly, were married not long after his diagnosis. The couple loves to travel, and have been to Paris together, but now it is more difficult to travel long distances after he started dialysis this year. They have to limit their time away to weekend excursions when they can find a dialysis center nearby.
DeLong currently undergoes dialysis three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at the DaVita Dialysis Center. Having to complete the frequent appointments means he goes into work as early as possible the other days of the week to make up the time, he said.
“He doesn’t ever complain, but I know dialysis and the whole process is so tiring and hard on him,” his mother said.
In addition to dialysis, DeLong also must adhere to a restrictive diet, having to watch his potassium, dairy, sodium and phosphorus intake, among other requirements.
The chance to have a transplant would be “amazing and life-changing,” he said, noting the chance to be free of dialysis, which is hard on his body, and a major improvement in his overall health and well-being. A potential donor would not incur any medical expenses from the procedure, which would all be covered by DeLong’s insurance and Medicare.
DeLong is listed at University Hospitals Kidney Transplant Program in Cleveland. He said O positive or O negative blood could be compatible for the donation, but if an individual with a different blood type was interested in donating, a “donor chain” could occur, with several other participating kidney donors and recipients.
A donor screening for the University Hospitals program is available for interested individuals to complete online at https://uh.donorscreen.org.