ShareThis Page

2 boys who received transplants at Children's Hospital progress to sunnier days

Ben Schmitt
| Monday, July 6, 2015, 10:33 p.m.
'Out an' about without any tubes or pumps for an hour... FREEDOM,' was the statement posted on Angelo Giorno's transplant Facebook page on Monday, July 6, 2015. The boy received a Nebraska girl's intestines in a tranplant last week.
'Out an' about without any tubes or pumps for an hour... FREEDOM,' was the statement posted on Angelo Giorno's transplant Facebook page on Monday, July 6, 2015. The boy received a Nebraska girl's intestines in a tranplant last week.

Little Angelo Giorno stepped outside of the hospital Monday morning, breathed in the muggy air, looked up at the sky and repeated these words: “Sunny day. Sunny day.”

Officially, Angelo — who underwent an intestinal transplant last week in Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC — is listed by officials as stable and in fair condition. But his legal guardians Dale Darazio and Dean Kuhns said the 4-year-old Derry boy is active, happy and chatty.

“He's doing extremely well,” Darazio told the Tribune-Review. “He's up and around and keeps telling us that he's ready to go home.”

Angelo and 2-year-old Lucas Goeller of Indiana Township captivated much of Western Pennsylvania last week when the boys received organs from a 3-year-old Nebraska girl who died of brain cancer.

Lucas received Olivia Swedberg's liver during a transplant surgery that began Wednesday night and ended early Thursday. Angelo received Olivia's small intestine, during a simultaneous procedure, to combat a digestive disorder known as short bowel syndrome.

Children's officials said that Lucas — like Angelo — was in fair condition.

His mother, Jessica Goeller, said Lucas' liver function appears to be improving while he remains on a ventilator.

“The doctors are decreasing his ventilator settings so he can breathe more on his own,” she said. “But they're being cautious so that his lungs stay safe. Truly, the process is amazing.”

Goeller said she's chatting daily via Facebook with Olivia's mother, Lauressa Swedberg.

“She's so strong,” Goeller said. “Our conversations have been really deep and interesting. I'm amazed at how well she's holding up.”

Swedberg connected with the Goeller family through social media when she received an email about Lucas' condition and a link to his Facebook page. She requested that Olivia's liver go to Lucas through a process known as direct donation.

When a transplant team recovered Olivia's liver for Lucas, they realized her small intestine was a match for Angelo.

Swedberg said that separate teams recovered organs from Olivia — her heart, kidneys and corneas — but she's not certain where in the country the other transplants occurred.

Swedberg, who lives in North Platte, Neb., told the Tribune-Review the positive news surrounding Lucas and Angelo helps keep her grief at bay.

“It keeps me going every day to hear about these boys,” said Swedberg, who has a 15-month-old daughter. “I hope they know that this is helping me as much as it has helped them. Their joy is holding my family together.”

Swedberg said she talked to Darazio on the phone several times.

“It's been great, communicating with both families,” she said. “I can feel their arms around me. I know they want to hug me, and I want to hug them back.”

Darazio said the feeling is mutual.

“It's amazing to hear her voice on the phone, knowing what her daughter did for us,” he said. “It's something, obviously, that I'll never forget. I'm not sure I can express how grateful I am.”

Ben Schmitt is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7991 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me