Last March, John Morelli underwent double transplant surgery, receiving a heart and liver during an 18-hour procedure at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Preparing for the surgery and then recovering – re-learning to eat, stand, walk and even write again – meant weeks in the hospital. It meant that his wife Stacey and sons Griffin, Tyler and Joshua spent many hours and days away from their home in East Braintree, and when they were home, everyday routines like baseball practice and making dinner became a challenge.
Fortunately, support from the community poured in. A group created Friends of John Morelli that held a fundraiser prior to his surgery, and others prepared meals, created a schedule to give rides to practices and games for the Morelli boys and purchased vouchers for the family to use when visiting the hospital.
Those efforts, and the experience meeting other patients' families who did not have the same kind of support system, prompted John and Stacey to create the Transplant Foundation of New England.
They launched the organization last month and have started helping their first transplant candidate, a local man named Francis Buckley who has been awaiting his second heart transplant since September at Mass General.
With the assistance of a team that includes Morelli's cardiologist, several business associates and friends, the foundation's aim is to offer support, financial and otherwise, to members of the transplant community. This ranges from giving families gift cards to restaurants and grocery stores, to helping offset medical bills and providing transportation and childcare.
Morelli, who has a management background, including a stint at The Red Cross Blood Service of New England, created a detailed plan for the foundation, including guidelines on how it will operate and a lengthy list of responsibilities for the board of directors.
The vision, as outlined by Morelli on the organization's website, is to keep operating costs at or below 25 percent. He projects first-year funding to hit $500,000, increasing to $1 million in year two and $2 million by year five.
The foundation, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization, will partner with corporations, seek grants and vendors, and also look for individual and group donations.
Anyone looking to contribute can do so at http://transplantfoundationofnewengland.org/donation.html.