A 19-year-old woman meets a 22-year-old stranger who donated his liver to her. The emotional reunion, over three months in the making, took place live on Good Morning America when a 19-year-old girl met a complete stranger who gave her his liver. Madison Ricci, 19, and Jaelin Highsmith, 22, had a liver transplant in December that took more than 20 hours in total.
Ricci’s medical complications from surgery delayed their meeting until Tuesday, when she had recovered enough to meet Highsmith in person. Highsmith surprised her live at “GMA” at her family’s home in Hamden, Connecticut. “I was speechless,” said Ricci, who had only two words for Highsmith: “Thank you.” “Unreal. That’s the best way to describe it,” Highsmith said of their first meeting. “It was a long time in the making.”
The road to Ricci and Highsmith’s first meeting began seven years ago when Ricci was diagnosed with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, at the age of 12. During spring break last year, when he was a student at the University of Tampa, Ricci’s health deteriorated. Doctors told her family that Ricci’s best hope of survival, already on the liver transplant list, was to find a living donor who would give her a piece of his liver. After months of waiting — and bumps in the road like a potential donor who failed — Ricci found out she had a match.