HILLSBORO, Ky. (LEX 18) — Twenty-one year-old Kennedy Maze has fought cystic fibrosis her entire life.
Cystic fibrosis is a disease which affects about 35,000 people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cystic fibrosis is a progressive, genetic disorder that causes problems with breathing and digestion.
In 2013, Maze underwent a double lung transplant as a teenager after doctors found the cystic fibrosis was in her lungs. In 2015, Maze was diagnosed with stage 4 Burkitt lymphoma and began treatment for the cancer. Then in 2020, Maze’s body began rejecting her transplant lungs and she was put back on the lung transplant list. While undergoing a series of testing, doctors discovered a complication. Maze was experiencing heart failure.
“It was pretty devastating because I wasn’t expecting it,” Maze said.
The heart-lung transplant Maze now needs is a rare procedure.
“It’s a scary journey. We have a long journey coming up. It’s not going to be an easy one,” said Sandy Maze, Kenedy’s mom. “It scares me to death.”
Kenedy Maze says the months ahead are scary and uncertain, but she’s keeping her chin up.
“On my bad days I remind myself better days are coming. You just have to get through a few more tough ones,” Maze said.
While Maze and her family wait for the good news that a heart and lungs are available for her, a Fleming County couple is organizing a series of fundraisers to aid the family when the surgery happens.
Julie and Johnathan Gay are long-time friends and supporters of the Maze family. Julie was Maze’s teacher in elementary school and has kept up with her journey over the years.
“She’s my hero. She’s probably the strongest person I have ever met,” Julie Gay said.
The couple is leading the charge in raising funds for Maze through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA).
“There is no cure for cystic fibrosis. She’s going to need support and we’re determined as a community to support her,” Johnathan Gay said.
COTA is a national fundraising organization that helps children and young adults who need life-saving transplants through fundraising assistance and family support. COTA has set Kenedy Maze’s lifetime goal at $30,000. Maze raised approximately $13,000 for her first lung transplant in 2013, and now needs to raise approximately $17,000 for her heart-lung transplant.
There are several fundraisers benefiting Kenedy Maze currently. All donations and proceeds will be forwarded to COTA, which will manage all finances for the Maze family.
Team Kenedy is hosting a virtual fundraiser auction in Hillsboro, Ky. at the Hillsboro Auction House through Feb. 25.
Maze is also the benefactor of a Facebook fundraiser launched on Feb. 9. The campaign is raising $5,000 to assist Maze with transplant-related expenses.
Donations for Kenedy Maze can also be made directly through COTA on the organization’s website.