Boy Given New Lease on Life as Family Friend Donates Kidney

May 15, 2002

It's been a long road to recovery, but an 11-year-old boy has a new lease on life, thanks to a family friend who selflessly donated one of his kidneys during a live-donor transplant in January.

The boy, Josiah Tomasso, is from Spencerport. As part of its Miracle Weekend celebration June 1-2, Golisano Children's Hospital at Strong is honoring five children - including Josiah - as Miracle Kids. Each overcame significant health problems while being treated at Golisano Children's Hospital.

Josiah's Story

Josiah suffered from end-stage kidney disease caused by dysplasia and secondary focal sclerosis. "We've been following Josiah here for eight years," says George Schwartz, M.D., chief of pediatric nephrology at Golisano Children's Hospital. "He needed a transplant because his kidney function was less than 15 percent of normal."

Amadeo Marcos, M.D., director of transplant surgery, led the transplant team in January during two four-hour surgeries during the same day. During the first surgery, he and his team removed the donor kidney. During the second surgery, they gave the donor kidney to Josiah. With the exception of Syracuse, Golisano Children's Hospital is the only place in Upstate New York that provides pediatric kidney transplants. After surgery, Josiah was taken to the Pediatric Intensive Care, the only such intensive care unit for children and teens in the region.

The donor, Charlie Gersey, is a family friend. After missing the screening deadline for potential donors, he pushed afterward to be tested. "After considerable prayer, I decided to have my blood tested," he says. "When I found I was a match for Josiah, I felt blessed and scared at the same time, but I knew I made the decision to be a donor the minute I made the decision to be tested. I'm glad I did. I just wanted to see my buddy whole again."

Miracle Weekend Celebration

Miracle Weekend is always one of the most exciting times of the year for Golisano Children's Hospital. It includes two major events.

The Golisano Children's Hospital Telethon will be broadcast live from the hospital on 10NBC June 1-2. In addition, Miracle Weekend always includes the Stroll for Strong Kids, to be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 1, at Genesee Valley Park. Children's activities and registration starts at 9 a.m. When finished with their "Stroll," walkers will be treated to a free lunch provided by Outback Steakhouse. There will be music by Gary the Happy Pirate, and many fun activities for the kids.

Participants are asked to raise money through sponsorship pledges from family members, friends and co-workers. Those who raise $75 or more in pledges will receive a commemorative t-shirt, and prizes will be awarded to the top fund-raisers. Last year, some 800 people took part, raising more than $80,000 for Golisano Children's Hospital. Pre-registration is required. To register for the Stroll for Strong Kids, or learn more about any Miracle Weekend event, call 585-273-5948.

In addition to honoring children such as Josiah, Miracle Weekend allows the hospital to raise funds that provide needed equipment for the children it serves, and items that make their stay a little easier.

Money raised will be used by Golisano Children's Hospital to buy equipment, such as preemie blood-pressure cuffs, and supplies that make hospital stays easier, such as IV pole wagons, videos and games, and sleeper chairs so parents have a comfortable place to rest when they stay with their children.

For Media Inquiries:
Public Relations Department
(585) 275-3676
Email Public Relations