Heart patient Za’Kelby and his mom Lillie are grateful for your love

Za'Kelby and Lille smile for the camera.

Za’Kelby and Lille smile for the camera. Source: Family

When Za’Kelby Langham, 17, woke up the morning of Nov. 1, 2019 he probably thought it would just be a normal Friday. However, by the time he got off the school bus in the afternoon, he felt terrible and his lips were turning a frightening color.

His mother, Lillie, has CPR training through her 17 years working at a daycare. She knew immediately knew they had to go to the hospital. It was worse than they could have feared.

“The doctor said, ‘I don’t want to scare you but he might have had a heart attack. We need to get you to the hospital in Birmingham,’” Lillie says.

Za’Kelby, who had no history of heart issues, was now in congestive heart failure. He and his mom were rushed to Birmingham, 3 hours away from their home in Lawrence County, for emergency care.

“He could have died that night if I hadn’t taken him. And that’s what scared me,” Lillie said. “I just thank God my baby is still here.”

Za'Kelby kisses the letter confirming his place on the heart transplant list.

Za’Kelby kisses the letter confirming his place on the heart transplant list. Source: Family

Za’Kelby is being kept alive by two heart pump machines and cannot leave the hospital until he gets his transplant. From November to January,  Lillie couldn’t bring herself to leave Za’Kelby and stayed in his patient room. She says she would drive home to Hillboro for two days at a time just to get some sleep and then come right back to Za’Kelby.

Eventually though, Lillie started staying at the Ronald McDonald House with her husband and older son, Stephone.

“It’s just like being at home, honestly,” she says. “I was unsure when I arrived because I didn’t know anyone or what to expect. But everyone is so nice. And the  bed! Every time I lay down, I’m asleep…I can’t even watch TV.”

Za'Kelby's family visits him in the hospital.

Za’Kelby’s family visits him in the hospital. Source: Family

Za’Kelby is hoping every day for a new heart and Lillie says he’s also looking forward to being at the Ronald McDonald House.

““I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready! I’m just hoping and praying for an NPO order…that means you can’t eat or drink anymore because you’re going into surgery!”

The Langhams don’t know when there will be a match for Za’Kelby. They have to take each day as it comes, relying on their faith and feeling thankful for the love of strangers.

“I feel that is God showing us, ‘Hey, you’re going through this but you’re not going through it alone. If you love me, help my people!’ And y’all help us a lot but you don’t have to do it. The Ronald McDonald House is a blessing,” Lillie says.

“Y’all don’t have to do this but by the grace of God you do,” Za’Kelby said.

Once Za’Kelby gets his transplant, he will stay at the Ronald McDonald House another 6 weeks so doctors can monitor him and his heart. As you can see, your support makes all the difference for the Langhams. Please consider making a gift today or volunteering to help them and the other 72 families who call our House “home.”