Real Life Stories

Monica & Tony Forte

Lancaster, PA

Seven-year-old swimmer-to-be

Successful transplant recipient

My son, Tony, was born with an intestinal disease and had been on the waiting list for a stomach, small and large intestine, pancreas and liver transplant. Tony had been on the waiting list at the University of Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital for five years before being transferred and having to wait an additional year before getting the call. After a successful surgery, he is starting a better life.

No More Backpack
There’s a special backpack that Tony had to wear everywhere he went. Then he received the call telling him that all this would end after he received the gift of a new life through organ donation. Now he doesn’t have to wear the backpack that keeps his body fed 18 hours a day. There’s no central line implanted in his chest, and he is beginning a completely different, healthy life experience.

It seems like just yesterday we were waiting during Tony’s transplant surgery. Now that everything is over, Tony has just rocked this change in his life, thanks to his donor and donor family. It just wouldn't be possible without their selfless act of compassion; we are just still amazed!

We can't begin to express our love for the surgeons and team who saved Tony's life and allowed the donor and his family to be forever heroes! Without them, Tony's life would not be enhanced, and to them, we will be forever indebted.

If you are on the fence about registering to become an organ donor, let Tony's new life allow you to open your heart to the idea of becoming one.

Eating Normally and Growing Strong
Rodrigo Vianna, MD, PhD, and his colleague, Thiago Beduschi, MD, from the Miami Transplant Institute, are the men who performed the extraordinary surgery that has changed Tony’s life. His body is free to move, and now he can pursue his dream of being a swimmer. Tony’s never been swimming — he wasn’t allowed — but he really wants to go.

Tony’s never been in a classroom. We had to cyber school him. We are so looking forward to his first day of getting on the school bus. His backpack will now have a totally different significance; it won’t be for IV nutrition anymore — it’ll have books.

Food is something you never think about, but it’s been a major concern in our lives. The biggest milestone for us after surgery is that Tony can now eat full meals instead of relying on the backpack for nutrients. Tony is overjoyed that he can eat, digest and enjoy food now. We have not forgotten the cost of this miracle. When we think about the donor family, we wonder: How do you thank someone who has saved the life of your child?

Spending so much time at the hospital, we met many families like us, and we’re always surprised there are so many. One boy lives just six blocks from us, and another, a few miles away — both waiting for organ transplants as well. Tony and the other two boys go to fundraising outings together, and they understand each other and their illnesses.

If you are on the fence about becoming an organ donor or a living donor, let Tony's new life allow you to open your heart to the idea of becoming one. Much love, prayers and blessings from our family and so many extended family members of friends and loved ones who have been with us on this journey for 11 years.


Sign Up to be an Organ Donor