Facebook connects teen to liver donor

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Anthony Parello needed a new liver. A friend of a friend shared his mother's Facebook post about looking for a match. An old friend came forward.

One week ago, Parello underwent the life-saving surgery. The recovery will be challenging, but the 14-year-old Lombard boy couldn't ask for more.

"I can actually live a normal life, like everyone else," Parello said.

Parello was born with a disease called biliary atresia. He's been in and out of hospitals his whole life and has never been able to keep up with his friends or do much physical activity. Three years ago, it became apparent he would need a transplant and he was put on the waiting list. When nothing happened, his mother took to Facebook trying to find a living donor for her son.

"Of friends and family, my husband, nobody was a match. Even we couldn't donate. Without Kendra I don't know where we would be," Kimberly Parello said.

Kendra Perpich was a casual acquaintance of Kimberly's 20 years ago. The two lost touch after she moved to Minnesota. Then a mutual Facebook friend shared Kimberly's call for help. Perpich said it was a no brainer. She reached out and submitted herself for testing.

"People ask, 'Why would you?' My question is, 'Why wouldn't you?'" Perpich said.

The transplant took place seven days ago at Northwestern Memorial and Lurie Children's hospitals. Perpich gave Parello a third of her liver. Doctors say it will regenerate fully within three months. For the boy's family, her gift is nothing short of a miracle.

"People don't get it, like how important organ donation is. Now that I'm on the other side of this. It's amazing," Parello said.

Because it takes a month to recover from a transplant, Parello won't be home in time for Christmas. However, doctors here hope he can at least be transferred to the Ronald McDonald house by the end of the week.
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