In what could have been the final inning of his life, Midway Baseball Association coach Julian Ortiz (left) needed a pinch hitter to spark a rally. A fellow MBA coach, Lisa Segura (right), did exactly that—donating her kidney and winning the game for Ortiz and his family. --Supplied photo

In what could have been the final inning of his life, Midway Baseball Association coach Julian Ortiz (left) needed a pinch hitter to spark a rally. A fellow MBA coach, Lisa Segura (right), did exactly that—donating her kidney and winning the game for Ortiz and his family. --Supplied photo

Late-inning rally

Baseball coach safe at home with new kidney

By Kelly White

When baseball coach Julian Ortiz learned he would need a kidney transplant, he and his wife, Claribel, were quick to act.

For three years, the couple and their four children literally searched the world for a suitable donor; but little did they know the answer was right at home.

Home plate.

Ortiz, 41, a coach with the Midway Baseball Association in West Lawn, was diagnosed with glomerulonephritis 20 years ago. It is an autoimmune disease that slowly damages the tiny filters inside of the kidneys.

GSWNH OrtizSegura 100821

In what could have been the final inning of his life, Midway Baseball Association coach Julian Ortiz (left) needed a pinch hitter to spark a rally. A fellow MBA coach, Lisa Segura (right), did exactly that—donating her kidney and winning the game for Ortiz and his family. –Supplied photo

In 2018, Ortiz was told he needed a transplant.

Trouble was, the wait for a new kidney was about eight years, he learned.

The clock was ticking. As the disease progressed, Ortiz found his legs had swollen so terribly, he could barely get out of bed.

So his family put on their rally caps and got busy. Claribel hung flyers up around the city that stated the obvious from her children’s point of view: My Daddy Needs a Kidney.

“We had decals on our cars and family T-shirts stating the same message,” Claribel said. “I also became very active on social media. There are thousands of people out there looking for a kidney. The power was in the search and my ‘mom drive’ kicked in to do everything I could to find this kidney.”

One of those flyers was spotted by Lisa Segura, who also coached at Midway Baseball but had never met Ortiz.

“I saw the flyer by the concession stand [at Madigan Park, 4701 W. Marquette Road, where the MBA is based], took a picture of it and I just applied,” Segura said.

For her, making the decision was just that easy.

“I read that he was a dad and that he coached just like I do,” Segura said. “He’s a parent of four children. I couldn’t imagine if that was me. I knew right away that I wanted to help.”

As fate would have it, she was a perfect match.

Claribel and the Ortiz family were overcome with gratitude for Segura.

“Life is busy, and to commit to something like this takes a lot of back and forth…and with the pandemic and it being an elective surgery, it was a lot,” Claribel said. “Despite everything going on in the world, Lisa took the time to go to these appointments, and she really did it all for us. “

The transplant took place on Sept. 9 at the UIC Hospital. Both Segura and the Ortiz family praised the medical team and communication they received throughout the process.

Like a walk-off homerun, the transplant has been a game changer for Ortiz and his family.

“What Lisa has done means the world to us and it gave Julian another opportunity to have a better quality of life and to continue his role as a father,” Claribel said.

Julian said he is beyond grateful.

“Someone at the ballpark with four kids and a family of her own, with four kids, did this for me,” he said. “It’s humbling, and it gave me a new perspective on life.

“What Lisa did is heroic,” he continued. “We were touched by the fact that we both have four kids and she still wanted to do this; not only for me, but for my children. She gave them their dad back.”

Since the transplant, both Julian and Lisa said the Midway Baseball Association has provided plenty of support by providing meals and constantly checking in.

Segura, who is still healing from the surgery, said she is especially grateful for the Ortiz family.

“Julian and his wife have been phenomenal throughout this entire process, providing lots of help and support,” she said. “They are wonderful people.”

The similarities between Segura and the Oritz go beyond their kidneys.

Segura’s children ranging in ages 5 to 18, and the Ortiz children range in ages 6 to 16. Both of the families’ own dogs named Nova.

“We couldn’t even believe it,” Claribel said. “When we started comparing our similarities, we knew it was meant to be. We couldn’t stop crying on the phone with one another when we discovered she was a match.

“I still feel like we’re dreaming,” she concluded. “Lisa’s a part of our family now, and the one thing we hope most through our story is that we can give hope to others.”

2 Comments

  1. Lidia Maldonado Vega on October 6, 2021 at 6:59 am

    Im so proud of Lisa ,she really has a big heart…and I thank God for people like Lisa .she is a hero.



  2. Judy on October 6, 2021 at 7:58 am

    What a wonderful story and a selfless thing to do. God bless Lisa and hopes that Julian is well and enjoys a full life.



Local News

Mary Stanek

Restaurant wall comes alive with art

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Soar up high with the beauty and grace of a butterfly–Unknown author. My favorite watering hole in years past, Andy’s, at 57th Place and Pulaski, has been a restaurant now for a few years. I recently noticed…

Peggy Zabicki

Something to be truly thankful for

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Thank you, one and all, for the texts and calls. I wasn’t feeling well last week and couldn’t write my column. I didn’t have COVID-19. I had that before there were vaccines for it. For me, COVID-19 was no big deal. On my worst day…

Jeanette Arteaga

Congratulations, Jeanette Arteaga

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Congratulations to Jeanette Arteaga, who has been chosen as a contributing author in a new book debuting this month. The title is Business Divas and focuses on Latinas in different stages of their business: some just starting out,…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Boys Basketball: Marist, Brother Rice stay unbeaten through two weeks

By Steve Millar Correspondent Marist came into the season with some question marks after losing a pair of key players to transfers and elevating several newcomers, including three freshmen, to the varsity roster. The young RedHawks are, however, off to a blazing 6-0 start. They held on for a 57-55 win on the road Nov.…

Jaeden King of St. Xavier gets ready to score one of his 39 points against Trinity Christian College on Nov. 30. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Local Hoops Wrap: Transfers shining for Saint Xavier in early going

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The transfer portal is turning college athletics upside down, and Saint Xavier men’s basketball coach Robert Ford is enjoying it. And taking advantage of it. Jaeden King came to SXU in 2021 after transferring from NCAA Division II Tiffin University. Prior to that he played at Western Illinois. He is…

SXU sophomore Kaleigh Ritter, shown in a match earlier this year, had 63 assists in a five-set loss to Cornerstone in the NAIA national tournament. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Area Sports Roundup: College of DuPage repeats as national football champ

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The College of DuPage, the only junior college in Illinois with a football program, won its second straight National Junior College Athletic Association national championship with a 14-12 victory over North Dakota State College of Science in Glen Ellyn. Former Richards’ standout Marquel Porter caught a 25-yard pass for the…

Mary Stanek

Hang out your socks for St. Nick

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Hang out those socks on the night of Monday, Dec. 5. St. Nicholas day is here on Tuesday, Dec. 6. St. Nick was known for selling all of his possessions and giving to the poor. He may…

Kathy Headley

Thanksgiving was fun, and delicious

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Hope your Thanksgiving was as fun and happy as ours. As always, the aroma and taste of home cooking and holiday desserts were a big part of the day. I feel comfortable telling you where we picked up…

CRRNH_SweetSaluteRhineVFW_112322

A sweet salute to veterans

Rhine VFW Post 2729 members William Haas and Jerry Dipasquale survey some of the bags of candy, pastries and other treats given to the post earlier this month by the students of Sahs School in Central Stickney. The Sahs boys and girls also wrote personal letters and made patriotic posters expressing their thanks and appreciation…

Runners get off to a fast start at the Orland Park Turkey Trot, where a record 1,000 runners signed up. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Orland Park man wins Turkey Trot; St. Laurence runner takes women’s title

By Jeff Vorva Staff Writer The number 19 meant good things on Thanksgiving morning. The top two finishers in the 34th running of the Orland Park Turkey Trot had “19” as part of the number on their bibs. Brandon Lukas, 25, of Orland Park, wore No. 7519 and took first place with a time of…

Neighbors

Nael Digital Ad2
State elections board certifies 2022 results

State elections board certifies 2022 results

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Elections certified its election results Monday, putting the final stamp on another Democratic sweep of statewide offices. The board reported that 4,142,642 out of 8,115,751 registered voters cast ballots in the election, a turnout of roughly 51 percent. That’s down from…

Holiday displays – including the Satanic Temple’s – return to Illinois Capitol

Holiday displays – including the Satanic Temple’s – return to Illinois Capitol

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Satanic Temple of Illinois debuted a new display in the Illinois Capitol rotunda Tuesday, taking its place next to the annual Christmas and Hanukkah displays. For Christmas, that means the Springfield Nativity Committee has once again placed a manger scene featuring Mary, Joseph and Jesus.…

State elections board certifies 2022 results

State elections board certifies 2022 results

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois State Board of Elections certified its election results Monday, putting the final stamp on another Democratic sweep of statewide offices. The board reported that 4,142,642 out of 8,115,751 registered voters cast ballots in the election, a turnout of roughly 51 percent. That’s down from…

Tax credits, prison reform pass in veto session

Tax credits, prison reform pass in veto session

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Illinois lawmakers last week passed significant legislation dealing with electric vehicle manufacturing incentives and the availability of hygiene products for prisoners in the state’s correctional system. But some weightier issues, including a possible assault weapons ban, will wait until a lame duck session scheduled for early…

CAPITOL RECAP: SAFE-T Act changes head to Pritzker; unemployment debt deal advances

CAPITOL RECAP: SAFE-T Act changes head to Pritzker; unemployment debt deal advances

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Thursday passed a long-awaited amendment to the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform’s provisions that will eliminate cash bail when the calendar hits 2023. The measure expands the list of crimes for which a judge can order pretrial detention, adds to what a judge can consider when determining…

Lawmakers advance $1.8 billion unemployment fund bailout

Lawmakers advance $1.8 billion unemployment fund bailout

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – On the final day of their fall veto session, Illinois lawmakers on Thursday advanced a pair of bills that would infuse $1.8 billion into the state’s unemployment trust fund, which was depleted during the economic shutdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The bipartisan agreement came…

Pretrial detention changes to SAFE-T Act will head to governor

Pretrial detention changes to SAFE-T Act will head to governor

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Lawmakers on Thursday passed a long-awaited amendment to the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform’s provisions that will eliminate cash bail when the calendar hits 2023. The measure expands the list of crimes for which a judge can order pretrial detention, adds to what a judge can…

Contempt citations against DCFS director reversed by appellate court

Contempt citations against DCFS director reversed by appellate court

By BETH HUNDSDORFER Capitol News Illinois [email protected] An appellate court on Wednesday reversed several contempt of court citations that were filed in recent months against Department of Children and Family Services Director Marc Smith for failing to comply with court orders to place state wards in appropriate settings. The court found that Smith did not…

State lawmakers pass measure limiting state investment in Russian assets

State lawmakers pass measure limiting state investment in Russian assets

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois House gave final passage Wednesday to a bill aimed at prohibiting state investment in assets tied to Russia and Belarus in retaliation for their participation in the war in Ukraine. House Bill 1293, by Rep. Lindsey LaPointe, D-Chicago, urges the state’s five retirement systems…

Changes to cash bail statute surface before Thursday’s planned adjournment

Changes to cash bail statute surface before Thursday’s planned adjournment

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Two days before lawmakers were scheduled to adjourn for the year, one of the lead negotiators of the SAFE-T Act criminal justice reform filed a long-awaited amendment detailing several changes to the landmark cash bail overhaul. Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, filed a 308-page amendment to House…

CRR NH Reliable Waterproofing House Ad
Regional First Secure Bank House Ad