What to Know
- Sixty-nine-year-old Frank Piccillo needed a rare double organ transplant to survive both liver and lung failure.
- The procedure is so rare it had never been done before in New York.
- Not only was the procedure a success – a year and a half later, over this past weekend, Piccillo danced at his son’s wedding.
It was a special day that one New Jersey family feared might not happen.
Sixty-nine-year-old Frank Piccillo needed a rare double organ transplant to survive both liver and lung failure. A procedure so rare it had never been done before in New York. But not only was the procedure a success – a year and a half later, over this past weekend, Piccillo danced at his son’s wedding.
“I saw him everyday gasping for air, laying in bed, couldn’t get out of bed,” his son Nick Piccillo said.
Frank had lung and liver disease and was using oxygen tank to breathe. The Jersey City school principal had to retire early and his colleagues, students and their parents visited him at his home as his condition worsened. His only chance for survival was a double organ transplant in the midst of a global pandemic.
“These were very difficult times to consider doing such a risky procedure,” Dr. Juan Rocca, a transplant surgeon at Montefiore, said.
On July 1, 2020, Dr. Rocca and a team of surgeons at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx successfully completed New York state’s first-ever lung-liver transplant. Within months, Frank was back on his bike, enjoying life.
“His quality of life and his life expectancy is really rewarding for the whole transplant team,” Rocca said.
“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Frank said about Dr. Rocca.
In addition, to running and biking, Frank and his wife, Katherine, had an exciting event over the weekend – the wedding of their son Justin.
“I’m really happy that now he is going to be there to celebrate with us and it means a lot to me to have that opportunity,” Justin said in anticipation of the big day.
His wedding was postponed for a year to allow Frank time to heal from the major surgery.
This father of the groom is now dreaming about a life further into the future.
“It’s going to be a wonderful wedding. It’s just so exciting. I never had a son who got married before, and you know, I’d love to have a grandson or a granddaughter, but I’ll wait for that,” Frank said in the days leading up to the wedding.
Frank has a renewed appreciation for life – all thanks to the organ donor and the team of surgeons who game him the precious gift of time.