Since then, Porter had been on the United Network for Organ Sharing Donor List, waiting for a new liver. On Friday, Dec. 17, a donor match was located and the transplant was performed at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).
Jacob is the son of Donald and Elaine Porter, and the brother of Christopher, Matthew, Stephanie and Jennifer. His grandparents are William and Madeline Vespe and Eunice Porter.
At the benefit dinner, Jacob’s grandmother Madeline Vespe praised her grandson’s strength.
“He’s holding his own. He never complains. Jacob is such a calm person, the type of person who talks quietly, listens. He’s a sweet boy with a great personality, and I have a great deal of hope for him. He’s in a great place (UPMC), and he’s getting the best care,” said Vespe.
Over 250 people joined Vespe for the spaghetti and meatball dinner, held from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 15. Each $10 ticket entitled diners to a selection of authentic Italian fare donated by Frankie’s Village Deli, Larry and Nancy Hammond, Hannaford of Highland, McDonald’s of Highland, Thomas O. Miller and Wagon Wheels Deli. Entertainment was provided by the students of Gina Marie’Z Academy of Performing Arts and a bagpiping corps.
The evening was sponsored by the Town of Lloyd Republican Committee.
“We just thought that it would be a great thing to do for Jacob. The Town Board is a Republican board, and along with Ulster County Legislators Mary Beth Maio and Paul Hansut, we decided to help as best as we could,” said Town Supervisor Ray Costantino.
Many transplant patients and their families have difficulties shouldering the financial burden of medical costs, which often exceed $500,000. An estimated $115,000 has already been raised for Porter by Highland volunteers, according to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA), a national charity that coordinates community outreach and support for transplant patients.
Benefit organizer Jeanine Pacheco’s daughter, Olivia, played soccer with Porter; the two graduated in the Class of 2009. Olivia designed a T-shirt that transposed Porter’s high school yearbook quote -- ”Never give up no matter what the odds” -- onto a soccer ball. All proceeds from the T-shirts -- and green bracelets reading “Liver life to its fullest” -- will also go to Porter’s COTA fund.
Pacheco thanked everyone in attendance at the benefit dinner. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you,” said Pacheco.
A soccer tournament will be held on Jan. 7 at Highland High School to raise additional funds. Volunteers are still needed to help with fundraising activities. For more information, contact COTA Community Coordinator Tami Ulbrandt at (845) 834-3229 or The2Yews@optonline.net.
Donations can be made in person at any Bank of America branch location using account number 483035428054 or mailed to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, 2501 West COTA Drive, Bloomington, Indiana, 47403. Checks or money orders should be made payable to COTA, with “In Honor of Jacob P.” written on the memo line of the check. Secure credit card donations are also accepted online at www.COTAforJacobP.com.