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Fort Lee Teen, Heart Transplant Recipient Hosts Donor Awareness Drive

The first annual donor drive was the idea of Fort Lee's Johnny Damato, 16, who hopes one day to start a foundation to help families in medical crisis.

The first Johnny Damato Donor Awareness Drive for Bergen County took place Sunday at the Fort Lee Recreation Center.

The drive was the brainchild of Fort Lee's Johnny Damato, 16, of Fort Lee, who received a life-saving heart transplant in June from which he continues to face a difficult road to recovery.

The event Sunday included a blood drive and organ and bone marrow registry and also served as a fundraiser to help offset Johnny’s ongoing medical care.

Johnny hopes to hold the event every year, and each year, the proceeds will go to a family in medical crisis. The youth also hopes to start a foundation someday to help and support such families.

Patch Photographer Christopher Costa captured these images Sunday of the drive.

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If you were unable to make to the Fort Lee Recreation Center Sunday, you can help by donating through the website, Hope for Johnny's Heart.

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carol simon October 22, 2012 at 11:15 PM
As John Damato. only 16, understands the hard way, he is truly giving back to the community by starting this blood drive. It is remarkable to see Johnny's health being restored since he received his new heart, just in time. It was so heartwarming to see family and friends gather by John's request for a greater cause. The inner strength exemplified that carries John and Rita, the loving parents of Johnny through their son's journey is admirable. You give those around you 'faith' and hope.

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