Anthony is the proud owner of Anthony's Italian Kitchen in Alta Loma, California. He had 1 brother, Vincent, who ran the store with him but he unexpectedly passed away December 2015. Anthony's parents, Vito and Myra have been working almost daily alongside him but with them both in the 80's they can only help so much. Even with Anthony's ongoing efforts he never gave up, he always kept his spirits high, he remained faithful in God’s guidance and lived everyday happy no matter how hard the day or pain was. Unfortunately, about 12 months ago, that all came to a brutal halt.
During a routine checkup, Anthony's doctors discovered small tumors growing on his liver which required an Ablation Surgery for Liver Cancer. As there are many different procedures available, his doctors thought the Cryoablation surgery would be best; freezing the tumors using liquid nitrogen. The procedure was deemed "successful" where all the tumors were removed and that only follow up routine visits where necessary every 3 months. On his 2nd follow up, just 6 months later, he received the devastating news that the tumors returned and he needed another Cryoablation surgery. He stayed very positive and continued to have faith that this surgery would be the one to put him in remission and that he would finally be cancer free. The surgery was again "successful" and his doctors were extremely positive with the results. He was sent home to recover just a day later!
Tragically just one week later, Anthony started experiencing extreme side effects from the surgery (or so he thought) that required emergency transport to the hospital. Upon testing, he was informed that his liver had completely failed, with a MELD score of 40! (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease) Clinically, a score of 40 and above means the liver has died and transplant is the ONLY option to save his life. Anthony was immediately transported to Kaiser Sunset in Los Angeles where the process for a liver transplant would begin.
For anyone who knows anything about transplants, and for those who do not, the process is very extensive. With the expeditated assistance of Kaiser Sunset staff, Anthony received approval for admittance to Ronald Regan UCLA - Southern California's top transplant hospital. Due to his health rapidly deteriorating, they admitted him to the ICU unit to assess how the rest of his body was functioning without his liver. As expected his other organs that were working twice as hard started to shut down. His kidneys began failing causing extreme jaundice. A large amount of fluid began surrounding his heart, reducing his blood pressure to extreme lows; and his sugar levels skyrocketed to the high 400's. They began Anthony on dialysis, started an insulin drip and inserted a tube through his nose to help drain some of the fluids from his body...amongst other things. While the ICU staff was working endlessly to keep him alive, the amazing liver transplant team was working simultaneously day and night finalizing all the requirements for being a transplant candidate and listing his name on the transplant list. There were many extremely hard and scary days before a matching liver became available but our prayers were finally answered!
Anthony’s surgery was performed on Tuesday July 4th at 12:30am with slight complications. During the surgery, Anthony’s heart slowed down dropping his blood pressure; the doctors were unable to stabilize him to finish the surgery. The team decided to come to a "safe stopping point" and return 48 – 72 hours later when his heart was more stable. Anthony remains sedated and on a ventilator for his own comfort and safety.
Once the 2nd surgery is complete, the recovery time in UCLA will be 3 - 6 weeks and then he will need a 24 / 7 in home caregiver for up to 6 months. Anthony will need to go back to UCLA 1 – 2 times a week for the first month, then once a month, then every 3 months and if no post-transplant complications arise, he can go every 6 months for lifetime. His insurance has a high annual deductible / co-pays and the very expensive lifetime medications and follow up appointments are barely covered. They also do not cover his in-home care or the travel expense back and forth to UCLA; which is 65 miles one way. Since he is not able to return to work, his employees will need to cover the extra hours, ultimately increasing his weekly payout. I have known Anthony and his family for 20 years and he has never reached out for help no matter how hard times got. He has always worked to take care of himself, his parents and opened his door and heart to everyone who needed help. Today he needs to lean on his friends, family, and all of you as he cannot make this long journey alone. This is our time to help Anthony and give back to him as he has always given to others. We pray that you can help in any way; a donation, a prayer and to pass Anthony’s story on to make his story viral.
Thank you all and God Bless.