What Are You Thankful For?


After last year’s Thanksgiving disaster, this year we opted to go to our favorite restaurant, Italianissimo, to enjoy a yummy feast.  In addition to the standard Turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, we enjoyed Italian appetizers galore ( grilled Portabello mushrooms, baked clams, grilled shrimp, carozza, baby scallops, eggplant rollatine, and stuffed mushrooms), penne and porcini mushrooms in a white sauce (it doesn’t get better than that) and then some of the most delicious desserts.


Yes, I’m thankful for a great meal.  But it pales in comparison to the more important things this Thanksgiving:  family and friends.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.  Sometimes I just think too much.  Not with worry..no.  More about how I’ve never doubted for one minute that we would find a way through these difficult times.

Often people ask me how I’m coping and I tell them, “fine.”  Yet they will ask me the same question repeatedly as if they expect me to be terribly depressed or something.  I’m just not.  See, all this hospital and transplant stuff is second nature to me.  I started this journey 15 years ago when my daughter was diagnosed with liver disease at 10 weeks old and was told she’d never live to see her 1st birthday.

And even back then, I never doubted I would find a way.  I’d sneak into the bio-medical library in Philadelphia in the early hours to read the latest liver transplant journals–learning everything I could to make the best decisions.  Sometimes I’d read for hours a day.  I connected with other people–both parents and medical professionals throughout the U.S. and abroad.

I even fought our insurance company to permit us to do a living-donor liver transplant.  My daughter was the first child in the U.S. to be approved through an HMO–not an easy feat.  Although we weren’t able to find a suitable donor back then, we opened the door for all those families who followed us giving them the option if they chose.

For 7 years, I headed a large pediatric liver foundation and volunteered my time to ensuring families received all necessary support and referrals to pediatric liver transplant centers.  Heck, I even got a little girl a free liver transplant and medication.

But then it all came to a screeching halt–in one short year, I attended more funerals of children who died from liver disease and/or transplant than one should in their lifetime.  I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t tell another new parent that everything would be ok.  I felt like I was lying to them.  And it was at that point that I closed the door to that chapter of my life.

Those doors have swung back open again and I need to take my daughter through another type of transplant.  Although kidney transplant is new to me, transplant is not.  Yes, I’ve had to learn new things, but none of it do I fear.  I use my head and not my heart as I make these difficult decisions.  And hopefully, my choices will get my daughter through this.

What am I thankful for?  I’m thankful I am ME even if I at times have false courage and unrealistic optimism.  I forge ahead knowing I have the tenacity and determination to see this through.  I am thankful that it’s 15 years later and many medical breakthroughs have occurred since then.  But like I said, I’m most thankful I am surrounded by wonderful family and friends.  Because without people, what would we have to live for?

Oh and I’m thankful we are home from the hospital and I can sneak out at 5am tomorrow morning to catch some of the Black Friday sales–especially at Joann’s Fabrics.  And Best Buy.  And Macy’s.  Etc.

Wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving!


P.S. – sorry to the poor photos…someone had messed with my camera settings.



  1. What a wonderful Thanksgiving this must be for you and your family Lisa – I’m so happy to hear things are looking up and I hope and pray this new donor is a match.

  2. Lisa, Your strength never ceases to amaze me. I am in awe of you and your family. Give Miss Marielle some hugs from me and know we are all thinking of you.

    I am so happy you were all able to enjoy your thanksgiving this year.

    XOXO ~ Beth

  3. Lisa and Marielle, every day I hope to hear back from the hospital about my application to be your kidney donor. I’m thinking about you both every single day. Be well. Hashi

  4. Lisa, you are an amazing woman and I know that your strength and positive attitude is an inspiration to all of us. I’m sure it is that positive attitude and a little faith that keeps you going and allows you to meet your goals. Marielle is a very lucky young lady to have a mom like you.

    Just for today I hope that you can take advantage of some of those sales–especially at the fabric stores. I hope that just for a little while you can have some nice fabric and sewing therapy. 🙂

    Hugs to you both.

  5. So much to be thankful for this year! Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. i hope you had a wonderful black friday shopping day. you’re daughter is so beautiful. she looks like a doll.

  7. Well as much as I’m disappointed that I won’t get to hear the exciting details like your last years thanksgiving dinner (hehe) I bet this is hands down your best thanksgiving ever. I’m thankful you are you and that I get to call you friend and my girls think of you as “aunt Lisa” (welll that and the lady who brings over the good cookies) Hugs to ya girlfriend!

  8. So glad to read that you have found a donor. Amazing that so many people came forward too. Hoping for you and your precious girl that this donor works out. Bx

  9. Hi Lisa and Marielle,
    We first heard about your journey and the exciting news of finding a donor on Twitter earlier this week. We found it so touching and inspiring that we wrote about it in our blog. You and Marielle have been an inspiration to many families, and certainly to ours. Happy Holidays!!

    Many Blessings….
    Hugo and Roxanne
    ~ Believe Achieve ~

  10. Dear Lisa,

    I just found your blog a few days ago. When I saw the link to Italianissimo my eyes grew wide, I have known that place for half of my life!! Great restaurant, and some great people too. I am shocked to see a fellow Islander with so much wonderful happening, but with so much heartache. I send my love and best wishes to you and yours!! Hopefully I will see my nephew in some Downtown Joey soon!!

    Jenn of Staten Island and SICOLAB and teacher at a local HS!

  11. I’m breathless. I’m speechless. I’m inspired. The picture of you and your daughter says it all. Strength, connection, tenacity, gratitude. your daughter’s outer beauty matches your inner beauty. and visa versa. I hope that I am part of a collective support system that adds up to much much more than the sum of its parts….one that ultimately generates faith and transformation……

  12. Lisa , you are a truly amazing woman filled with courage and hope. And your attitude towards the world is something that others need to look at and realise just how lucky we are. Its extremely brave of you to be able to write all your feelings down to blog and share them with the world GOOD LUCK >

  13. there is no thing i’m not thankful for.

    in all things give thankx – there will be a lesson at the other end.

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