Raising Awareness of the Gift of Life at San Francisco Giants Games for 25 Years

It was a dream come true for Jah’Seki as he stepped onto the field at Oracle Park during warmups to meet some of his favorite San Francisco Giants players. The 9-year-old is being honored as he received an intestinal transplant that gave him another chance at life.

This year marks the 25th year of the Giants hosting Donate Life Day, where they recognize the importance of organ donation by inviting patients like Jah’Seki to the game.

“It was amazing to see him get to a place where he can enjoy things like this,” said Marcus Cathey, Jah’Seki’s father. “It took me back to my childhood. He’s a spitting image of me. I grew up on a baseball field, so to see him experience things that I experienced every summer as a kid and have a chance to see the things I would like him to see is incredible.”

The awareness day started back in April 1998 with John Kerner, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist and intestinal rehabilitation specialist at Stanford Medicine Children’s Health. He pitched the idea to the Giants after one of his patient’s cases, and three physicians from Stanford Children’s threw out the first pitch. Every year since, except during the COVID-19 pandemic, transplant patients and care teams have been invited to the event.

“This year, we had 9 patient families attend the game,” Dr. Kerner said. “The Giants have been very gracious about getting tickets for the kids and their families. Having one patient go on the field every year has been heartwarming. It’s a good experience for them, and they don’t forget it – being on the field.”

What’s even more special is that Dr. Kerner treated Jah’Seki ever since he was born with a condition that damaged his small intestine, required much of it to be removed. The result was short bowel syndrome, or short gut, and intestinal failure. To survive and grow, he was on total parenteral nutrition (TPN)—intravenous feeding—which meant he spent several hours a day hooked up to a machine, unable to freely run, play, and take on life.

Earlier this year under the care of Ke-You (Yoyo) Zhang, MD, gastroenterologist and medical director of Pediatric Intestinal Transplant, Jah’Seki left Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford after receiving an intestinal transplant. And that’s when he began to dream like 9-year-olds should.

“Stories like Jah’Seki’s help more people be aware about the impact of organ donation,” Dr. Kerner said. “Being able to share this message at Giants games is very important. You can carry on through the lives of other patients and know that you’re helping others get another chance at life.”

A family full of Giants’ fans, Jah’seki attended last year’s Donate Life Day from the stands, watching another transplant patient get honored on the field. This year, Donor Network West and Stanford Children’s care teams put Jah’seki forward to be recognized.

“Remembering where he was just 6 or 7 months ago and how much he’s been through, I see him absorbing where he is now, even in the little moments coming [to Oracle Park],” Cynthia, Jah’Seki’s mom, said. “Being out on the field, seeing him toss a ball, meet a pitcher and just appreciating, it was amazing.”

To support him, several members of Jah’Seki’s care team were at the game. That included William Berquist, MD, pediatric gastroenterologist, Tito Monge, PA, who was one of the three who threw out the first pitch during the first Donate Life Day, and more than a dozen of his nurses—something Jah’Seki and his family are grateful for.

“Miracles happen,” Marcus said. “One life can save another life. You never know where it’s coming from and you’re just waiting every day, hoping and praying that a miracle happens. So, we send the same prayers and blessings to family of the person that was able to donate the intestine to him.”

Read more: Boy With Short Bowel Syndrome Living the Dream of a Better Life

The SF Giants community spotlight, which played on the scoreboard during the game, featured Donor Network West and Jah’Seki.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)