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Raising money for the gift of life

A Greentown man has made it his mission to raise money for organ donation awareness. For his annual fundraiser, he's helping a baby girl from his community.

GREENTOWN, Pa. — If you only saw her smile, not the hospital bed or the medical equipment, you'd have no idea Madeleine Morgan from Greentown is sick.

"She's a happy girl!" says her mom, Samantha Morgan.

8-month-old Madeleine has spent about half of her life in the hospital. She's been on dialysis basically since day one. She'll eventually need a kidney transplant. The doctors are waiting until she gets a bit bigger, hopefully around the age of two.

"I think the hardest part is we are here down in Philadelphia [at the hospital], and we're from up in Greentown. So, it's not close. We also have a 3-year-old son at home, which makes things a little difficult sometimes," explained Samantha.

Her parents – Bruce and Samantha – post updates on her progress on a Facebook page called Madeleine's Journey. And beneath almost every caption describing their baby's health struggles, there's a photo of Madeleine smiling. 

It's really been a rough couple of weeks but unfortunately we have landed back in the hospital again. We came home...

Posted by Madeleine's Journey on Friday, June 17, 2022

That smile has stolen a lot of hearts, including Eddie Vetrano's, also from Greentown.

"The first time I met them, I had breakfast with them here at the Greentown Grill, and looking at this baby smile and laugh – never have I seen her cry. And to know so much of what she's been through."

Vetrano does know what she's been through. He's been through it himself. 

He was diagnosed with kidney failure in 2008. His daughter ended up donating one of hers. 

Since then, he's dedicated his life to encouraging others to "give life." Those words are tattooed on his fingers. 

This is Vetrano's 13th year of hosting a fundraising festival to benefit the National Kidney Foundation and Gift of Life Marrow Registry. He also now raises money for local families.

This year, he chose baby Madeleine. 

"We never thought we'd be on the receiving end of something like that. We typically like to give. We are also hopeful with this experience, and once we are in a stable position, we can find a way to give back just as much as people have given to us," Samantha said.

Tickets for Vetrano's fundraiser this weekend sold out within 22 days. But you can keep up with Madeleine's journey on her Facebook page. Her parents tell us the surgery she had on Monday went well, and they hope she can come home this weekend.

Check out WNEP’s YouTube channel.  

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