Eleven-year-old Tony Forte is recovering in Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami after receiving stomach, small and large intestine, liver and pancreas transplants. Forte was born with a rare ailment known as complete intestinal Hirschsprung disease, which debilitates the digestive system. The donated organs came from a 12-year-old boy.
We all go through challenges in life. But many likely pale in comparison to what Tony Forte has endured the last 11 years.
Forte was diagnosed with Hirschsprung disease at just 6 days old. At 2, his colon was removed. He can’t eat solid foods or attend school; he and his two older brothers must be home schooled. His parents have struggled to maintain jobs because of the volatility of Tony’s condition.
Forte has relied on a Broviac catheter running from a backpack to his chest for nutrition, and a gastrostomy tube implanted in his stomach. His clothes conceal an ostomy bag above his waist.
He has been on the waiting list for transplants for more than six years. Making matters worse, his body could only accept organs from a child with an O-negative blood type and who died of head trauma.
Despite this, Forte has displayed extraordinary spirit, strength and fortitude, as has his loving family.
We saw Forte as a preschooler excitedly toss the first pitch at a Lancaster Barnstormers game. We’ve caught glimpses of his personality through his evolving choice of backpacks, with themes ranging from Thomas the Tank Engine to Spider-Man. We’ve watched him chase his friends, carrying his backpack and donning a Halloween costume, at Tony’s annual Harvest Fest in Willow Street. Continue reading
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