Family and friends of a 16-year-old Fort Lee youth who received a heart transplant in June are planning a fundraiser and blood drive on Oct. 21 at the Fort Lee Recreation Center.
They have also created a Facebook page for the Johnny Damato Donor Awareness Blood Drive and have raised 5 percent of their fundraising goal to date with hopes of hitting the 15 percent mark by the end of this week.
“Donate blood [and] help save a life at the upcoming blood drive taking place at the Fort Lee Recreation Center,” the newly launched Facebook page says.
Johnny Damato was born with a rare congenital heart disease called Corrected Transposition of the Great Vessels and needed a heart transplant.
In mid-June, Johnny, then 15—he turned 16 on June 21—learned that he would receive the heart he so desperately needed.
After a 10-hour surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital on June 13 and about three months, Johnny is going through what his mother, Rita Damato, previously called “cardiac rehab.”
“He’s hanging in there,” Damato said of her son at the time.
Doctors have told the family that the first year is critical, but beyond that, they can’t really tell them anything definitive, Damato told Patch in August.
“The anticipation is that everything will be fine, but there’s just no way of knowing,” she said.
The blood drive is Sunday, Oct. 21 from 12 to 6 p.m. at the Fort Lee Recreation Center at the foot of Stillwell Avenue.
Signup for the blood drive is easy and can be done through the Facebook page, “Johnny Damato Donor Awareness Blood Drive.” In the meantime, you can help by donating through the website, Hope for Johnny's Heart.