To use a baseball metaphor, former Baltimore Orioles vice president Jim Duquette will always be the Most Valuable Player in daughter Lindsey's battle to defeat Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare and debilitating kidney disease.
The disease causes high blood pressure, swelling and scars the kidneys, causing the body to lose essential proteins. Over time, the kidneys may lose their ability to filter blood, requiring dialysis or a transplant.
Lindsey, 11, was diagnosed with FSGS when she was seven and was in need of a kidney when her dad stepped to the plate last June at John Hopkins Hospital to donate his kidney to her.
Both Sparks residents are doing so well six months after the operation that they were able to travel to receive the You Gotta Have Heart award at the annual New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America awards dinner last month in Manhattan.
Lindsey told a crowd of 1,300 attendees — including Major League Baseball Cy Young Award winners David Price, of the Tampa Bay Rays, and New York Mets knuckleball specialist R.A. Dickey — that the disease has been stifled.
"FSGS and Nephrotic Syndrome controlled my family and me for eights years," the Sparks Elementary School student said. "The transplant is working. I'm hoping to be a normal kid. And so far, the last seven months have been really fun. It's the best I've felt in a long time. I hope we can find a cure for this terrible disease."
Just 18 months ago, Lindsey was bedridden, lethargic, couldn't attend school or play outside with her friends. She was too weak to even feed herself.
At one point, she entered end-stage renal failure, and her parents made the painful decision to have both of Lindsey's kidneys removed.
The young girl's nearly lifelong battle with her disease seemed to have reached its worst point — until kidney removal proved to have an unexpected affect. Lindsey's old self returned.
Without scarred kidneys leaking protein into her urine and weakening her body, she was once again an energetic kid. The downside was daily dialysis treatments needed to do the job her kidneys once performed.
That changed after Duquette's donation to his daughter.
"A year ago, we had just found out that I was the right match (to donate) for her," he said about watching the youngest of his three children speak at the event. "There were just a whole lot of uncertainties, especially for her. A year later, I was pinching myself and thinking, is this really happening? I had to fight back the tears, knowing how much she had suffered."
The new, healthy Lindsey is "thriving" said her dad, who is an analyst and broadcaster for Major League Baseball and its satellite radio network.
"She had an ear infection last week," he added. "Most kids would want to stay home because of the pain. Not her. She wanted to take a couple of Tylenols and go to school. That comes from missing so much school when she was sick. Now, she wants to be there all the time."