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Group working to ease cost concerns for DuPage girl awaiting transplant
By Christie Willhite | Daily Herald Staff

Jayne Zenker


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Published: 1/25/2009 12:01 AM

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Two years ago, Jayne Zenker was a 16-year-old in her junior year at West Chicago Community High School when severe stomach pain sent her to the hospital and led doctors to discover a seven-pound tumor on her liver.

The diagnosis was hepatocellular adenoma, a condition so rare it affects just one in 2 million people.

The Carol Stream teen underwent an eight-hour surgery in which doctors removed the tumor and more than 75 percent of her liver. Though she's been hospitalized nearly 30 times to treat a range of complications, Zenker, now 18, has graduated high school.

Doctors now recommend Zenker receive a liver transplant, and she is on the list awaiting a donor.

Costs surrounding such transplants can be $500,000 or more. To help ease the financial burden on Zenker's family, a group of friends and relatives is working with Children's Organ Transplant Association with the goal of raising $60,000.

Kirby Williams is coordinating a slate of collections, fundraisers and auctions on behalf of Children's Organ Transplant Association for Jayne Zenker.

Q. What is your mission?

A. The cost of a liver transplant is extremely expensive and not all expenses are covered by insurance. Our group's mission is to raise funds to provide financial support for the family as they engage in all the activities that surround a transplant.

Q. How are you raising money?

A. We already have had one Shop-and-Share event and are participating in online fundraising efforts. Donation boxes are in place throughout various local communities.

The COTA for Jayne group also is planning events such as a spaghetti dinner, candlelight bowl, Dine-and-Share, additional Shop-and-Share and partnerships with local sports organizations.

Q. When and why did the organization start?

A. In February 2007, 16-year-old Jayne Zenker entered the hospital with severe stomach pains and suspicious bleeding. Eventually she was diagnosed with hepatocellular adenoma, a very rare liver disorder affecting only one in 2 million people. Since then, Jayne has been admitted to the hospital more than 27 times.

She is on a waiting list for a lifesaving liver transplant, though due to her condition, she qualifies to receive a transplant only from a deceased donor.

The COTA for Jayne Zenker group sprang out of the need to provide financial and emotional support as the family navigates the organ transplant process.

Q. What kind of successes have you had?

A. So far we have had tremendous support from friends and Jayne's church community.

Q. What challenges do you face?

A. The biggest challenges surround getting the word out, and keeping the fundraising ideas fresh and interesting. The COTA for Jayne goal is to raise $60,000 within the next 12 months.

Q. What do you wish the community at large knew about the organization?

A. Organ transplants are still a very difficult and expensive procedure. We hope to increase the awareness around organ donation and bring to light the persons and families that can benefit from this life-giving gift. There are also new donation procedures in the State of Illinois that we hope to share information about.


eBay auction: Collecting household items, instruments, electronics, video games and more to sell on eBay; drop donations 8 a.m. to noon Feb. 8 at Corpus Christi parish, 1415 W. Lies Road, Carol Stream

Online: Help COTA for Jayne Zenker at

In businesses: Donation boxes placed in 12 locations in Carol Stream, West Chicago and other towns; see for locations

Jewel Shop-and-Share: March 16-18 and April 13-15; get coupons by e-mailing

How to donate

Drop-off: Checks or money orders can be taken to any Chase branch. Reference account 2917124667, make payable to "COTA" and write "In Honor of Jayne Zenker" in the Memo space

Mail-in: COTA, 2501 W. COTA Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403

How to volunteer

Call: (630) 736.1006