Jacob Kilby was born with Hypoplastic left heart syndrome – a rare heart defect in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. As a result, the left side of Jacob’s heart is unable to pump sufficient blood to the body, leaving the right side to do all of the work. At two years old, he underwent four consecutive open-heart surgeries and a life-saving heart transplant after he was given only 24 hours to live.
Sixteen years later, Jacob’s heart has begun to fail once again. He has been placed on the Level 2 heart transplant waiting list, hopeful for a second heart transplant. Due to Jacob’s heart condition, he and his family are forced to endure the dreadful uncertainty of how long his health will last before he is moved up the waiting list.
Despite adversity, Jacob is resilient and is still pursuing his passion for surfing by making the most of the cards he has been given. To Jacob, his incredible sense of optimism in the face of hardship could not be possible without the loving support of his friends and family. It is this support, coupled with Jacob’s strong passion for surfing, which has led to the creation of the “Heats for a Heart” surf contest and the Swell Hearts Foundation.
On Sunday, November 16, 2014, the San Diego surf community came together for the “Heats for a Heart” surf contest at Pacific Beach in San Diego to support the 19-year-old local surfer, Jacob Kilby.
Over 50 rippers rallied to support Jacob’s road to a new heart while showcasing their own talent. With divisions for Groms, Open, Longboard, and Tag-Team Wavestorm, there was something for everyone. Floridian air guru, Kevin O’Leary, took down the hotly contested Open Final, narrowly edging out Charlie Rick, Fernando “Buddy” Weatherly, and Nikki Harth. Jacob also surfed in the contest and was able to share his story and raise awareness about organ donation at the awards ceremony.
It was an incredibly humbling experience to see the local surf community get behind Jacob and participate in such a fun and inspiring event. The ocean cooperated, too, and the surfers were blessed with excellent surf throughout the entire event.
The event, however, could not have been made possible without the generous support of Pacific Surf School, Rip Curl, Liquid Foundation, Albee Layer, and many others who attended and donated.
Shortly after the surf contest, Jacob was admitted to the hospital to have some antibodies flushed from his system where he was miraculously bumped up to the 1A transplant list – meaning he is next in line for a new heart. Jacob is continuing his positive mind-set using his story to inspire others and raise awareness of organ donation. From his hospital bed, Jacob launched the Swell Hearts Foundation with a mission to save as many lives as possible by creating a tremendous wave of new organ donors around the world.
For more information on Jacob’s endeavors, please visit the Swell Hearts Foundation website or sign up to be an organ donor.