Madison Ricci: Photos, Full Story & Must See Details

Madison Ricci, a 19-year-old college student, miraculously survives life-threatening lupus disorder by a 22-year-old liver donor stranger through Facebook.

What Happened?

Madison Ricci lives in Hamden, Connecticut and was diagnosed with lupus at the age of only 12. Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that occurs when your body’s immune system attacks your own tissues and organs. Inflammation caused by lupus can affect many different body systems — including your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs. Ricci’s case included an enlarged spleen, a low blood platelet count and was very anemic. Although she was put on medications, her condition was not getting any better. As her spleen drastically grew in size, other organs were at risk of being damaged. After multiple tests, results concluded to her liver now attacking itself. She was in danger with the loss of liver cells and permanent scarring of the organ. As a result, she was at the extent of needing a liver transplant to avoid serious danger. With an act of urgency, her parents, Kristine and Todd, made a public appeal on Facebook titled Miracle for Maddie to provide aid for in search of their daughter’s living donor.

Miraculously enough, a living donor match was able to be found within a short period of time. 22-year-old Jaelin Highsmith, who lived nearby in Meriden, saw this post through Facebook and was willing enough to get tested to see if he was a match. Results were in after 4 months of testing, and the two underwent surgery in December 2018.


Ricci and Highsmith only communicated via messaging but never met in real life. Therefore, as a nice gesture, Good Morning America, an American television show, arranged a surprise event for the two. On the morning of April 16th, Highsmith and Ricci met for the first time outside of Ricci’s house. The two overwhelmed with joy embraced each other for their great accomplishments. Ricci ran into Highsmith’s arm and said, “I’m speechless. Thank you.” Highsmith happily said after finally getting to meet Ricci, “Unreal. That’s the best way to describe it. It’s been a long time in the making.”

After the successful surgery, Highsmith only spent a couple of weeks at home while Ricci remained in the hospital until she was discharged before Christmas. She will be recovering for several months at home, therefore, will not be able to return attending school until the fall semester.

In addition, a fundraising campaign on Give Butter was started by a family friend of the Ricci’s in an act of aid of covering the costs of the surgery. The amount of $6,500 has been raised of the $20,000 goal at the moment.

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