LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas family is celebrating a milestone — one that began in tragedy but has blossomed into something new — all because their son chose to donate his organs and save a life.
In four short years, Kennedy Ngungutau’s life has changed dramatically. As an athlete living in Dallas, Texas, he never expected to find his hero in Las Vegas.
“Hello, little guy. Ah, look at that,” Ngungutau coos to his newborn son Nezra Jacob, who is just weeks old and surrounded by family.
Ngungutau recently became a father to son Nezra Jacob, who is just weeks old, and already surrounded by family.
“I’ve always said, family doesn’t always have to be blood,” Nezra’s mom Neida Negugua adds.
This is a story of heartache, loss, love, and now the future. “Every time I look at him, I think of Jacob,” Ngungutau said.
Jacob was just 25 years old when he died of a drug overdose.
“He was someone whose smile would light up a room and he had charisma,” Jacob’s father Jim Jimmerson said.
It was Jacob’s selfless decision to become an organ donor that ultimately allowed the two families to grow and bond.
“That choice has changed our lives and has changed Kennedy Ngungutau’s for sure,” added Jim Jimmerson.
Ngungutau was in his early 20s when he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. He’d spent nearly two years living with a machine pumping his heart for him. He was on borrowed time when he got the call that he was to receive Jacob’s heart.
“Even though I never met him, I can feel his presence,” Ngungutau said. “I just want to continue his legacy. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here.”
But now, more than four years later, Ngungutau is thriving. He’s a newlywed, a new dad, a stepfather, and a son to Jim and Carol Jimmerson.
“Kennedy and his family are like our families,” Carol Jimmerson said. “I am so glad that he’s the young man that got the heart because he was appreciative and he’s a loving person.”
It was a connection forged when things felt hopeless following their son’s death and it has shined a light on a bright future for two families.
“Only something good will come out of this,” Jim Jimmerson said.
“My son is blessed to have a bonus grandma and grandpa,” Neida Negugua adds.
Twelve hundred miles may separate the two families but they will always be bonded by Jacob’s selfless act.
Jacobs’s liver went to a woman in Arizona and saved her life. There are currently more than 103,000 Americans waiting for a transplant. Around 41% of adults in Nevada are registered as donors.
If you’d like to learn more about becoming an organ donor, You can visit this link at Nevada Donor Network or this link at Donate Life Nevada for more information.