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10th Annual Jessie's Day Celebration Brings Hope, Remembrance

Jessica Beth Schwartz’s Memory Inspires Her Family to Continue Scholarship Fundraiser

10th Annual Jessie’s Day Celebration Brings Hope, Remembrance

PHILADELPHIA, PA— A few days after she was born, Jessica Beth Schwartz was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. At only 10 months old, Schwartz underwent open heart surgery.

“Her tiny heart was very complicated,” says Janice Schwartz Donahue, Jessica’s mother. “She had multiple holes in her ventricles, and had open heart surgery to patch the holes. But by the time she was a teenager, she was in chronic, congestive heart failure.” At the age of 14, Jessica and her family were told that she would need a heart transplant to save her life. Jessica was soon placed on the waiting list, and in September 1994, she received the gift of life from a generous donor—her new heart.

An avid student and artist, Jessica was able to participate in all kinds of activities as a volunteer with Gift of Life Donor Program following her transplant. Jessica lived for eight and a half years before her health began to fail, and she passed away in March, 2003 at the age of twenty-three. Soon after she passed away, Jessica’s memory was honored by her family, with the founding of the Jessica Beth Schwartz Scholarship Fund.

“The scholarship fund started because she was so active for the 8-/12 years post-transplant,” says Schwartz Donahue. “She was one year shy of graduating from college, so the idea was to create a scholarship fund. It was her dream just to get through school.” Jessica had been attending Temple University for journalism and had always wanted to share her story with others.

Each year since her passing, the Jessica Beth Schwartz Scholarship Fund and the Transplant Foundation have offered scholarships to young, college-bound solid organ recipients in the Philadelphia region. The Fund has raised more than $90,000 to help send college-bound recipients to school, and continues to fundraise through its annual “Jessie’s Day” event.

Hosted in conjunction with Gift of Life Donor Program and the Transplant Foundation, the 10th Annual Jessie’s Day will be held on Sunday, September 23 from 1-4pm at North Bowl, at 909 N. 2nd Street in Philadelphia, PA. The public is cordially invited to attend Jessie’s Day, which will also include a delicious buffet, an auction of Phillies’ items and more.

To purchase tickets for Jessie’s Day, and for more information on organ and tissue donation, please call the Gift of Life at 1-800-DONORS-1 or visit our website,

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