Westmoreland Airport Authority director eases back into work while recovering from transplant
Executive Director Gabe Monzo on Tuesday participated in his first Westmoreland County Airport Authority meeting since undergoing a liver transplant April 9.
“We’re glad to have you back,” said authority Chairman Don Rossi.
“I’ve been through a lot the last six months. It’s been quite the experience,” Monzo said. But, he added, “I feel stronger every day.”
Monzo hasn’t returned to his post full-time, but he comes in to his office for a few hours at a time to check on email messages. He wears a protective mask on his face most of the time to protect against any infection that could affect his new liver.
Before the transplant, Monzo had struggled for months with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a chronic disease that causes liver inflammation and damage. Family members said he needed the surgery within a year to survive, and his niece, Casey Holnaider Vrable of Latrobe, offered a portion of her healthy organ in a living-donor transplant through the UPMC Center for Liver Diseases in Pittsburgh.
Monzo and his niece, whose liver is regenerating, were due for followup checkups with doctors this week. He said he’s been taking protein supplement drinks and has been told the donated tissue that has been growing inside him should reach full size in about three more weeks.
Monzo is usually a central figure at the annual air show at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, but his recovery forced him to watch from the sidelines this year as other authority staff guided volunteers to make the event happen May 25 and 26.
“I can’t say enough for the staff,” Monzo said. “Everybody did a wonderful job. Everybody stepped up. They pulled everything off.”
Authority officials placed attendance at about 30,000 each day of this year’s show, compared to the usual estimate of about 100,000 spectators over two days.
Many agreed that rain on the second day of the show was a factor while some suggested the event may have had to compete with other activities as it fell on Memorial Day weekend this year.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .