At the age of six, Tessa was facing the end of her life due to a condition of the liver. Now, more than 30 years later, Tessa reflects on the transplant and the young boy who saved her life.

Karaoke with friends. Dancing. Hanging out. Typical activities for a young person. But Tessa Farese has a back story unlike most of her contemporaries.

Surgeries populated her childhood years to correct Biliary atresia, a congenital condition resulting in a blockage in the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder. Doctors performed operations on baby Tessa at two and three months and when she was a one-year-old. The procedures continued between ages four and five with seven laser throat surgeries to reduce the size of the veins in her neck.

These methods were just stop-gap measures. Tessa says that it was a “big deal” that she survived. Her family remained brave, but the situation was dire. October 14, 1991, changed the whole outlook to optimistic and bright.

“I cried when I heard that I would get a liver, except I didn’t realize that someone would have to die for me to live,” Tessa remembers. The donor was a 5-year-old boy who was hit by a car. Tessa and her family received a Christmas card that year and the next, but communication has lapsed in ensuing years. “My life was saved because of organ donation.”

After the successful liver transplant, Tessa spent time in the hospital recovering. “Transplantation was the last option for me and literally meant my life to myself and my family.”

The vivacious young woman loves life and relishes the opportunities and challenges that spice up her daily agenda. Tessa is now the mother of two young boys and is still thriving with the liver that was gifted to her more than 30 years ago!

A little girl who overcame more than most grown-ups.
Tessa is now the mom of two boys of her own and reflects "I have two boys, Carter who is five and Aiden who is one. They would never be here if I didn't get that transplant so I'm very grateful for my boys."


The stories of our donor and recipient families are powerful, moving celebrations of life, hope, and love that get to the heart of why we do what we do, and the difference we can all make. Lifebanc believes that anyone can be a hero – and we see it every day in the generous decisions of people and families who choose and support organ and tissue donation. We’d like you to meet some of these heroes, and some of the Northeast Ohio neighbors they are helping.

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