Community leader survives kidney/liver transplant, returns home

Pantagraph | Paul Sweich

Tony Kelleher prepares to check his blood sugar as his wife, Michelle, watches in their Chenoa home on Oct. 27. Tony, a lifelong Chenoa resident and longtime diabetic, is back home after surviving life-threatening illnesses and receiving a liver/kidney transplant.

CHENOA — An anonymous donor and his family gave back to Chenoa one of its favored sons.

"They gave us back a husband, father, brother, uncle and good friend to so many people," Michelle Kelleher said.

"They" are the family of a man who died in Tucson, Ariz., in June. Michelle doesn't know the man's name.

But she knows the man whose life was saved. Her husband, lifelong Chenoa resident Tony Kelleher, lives because he received a liver and kidney transplant June 5.

Tony returned home Oct. 15 and is gaining strength. But even as he continues with his therapy, takes 11 medications a day and checks blood sugar, blood pressure, temperature, pulse and weight twice a day, he and Michelle want to give back and are increasing awareness about organ and tissue donation.

"Sign up to be an organ donor," Michelle said in the Kelleher family home last week. "It saves lives. Someone else's loss and generosity saved my husband."

Tony, 58, and Michelle, 51, have three adult children.

After graduating from Chenoa High School, Tony built grain bins for Growmark Inc. and then went to work for Bloomington Offset Printing Inc. In 1982, he moved to Original Smith Printing in Bloomington and has been there since. Continue reading