Philadelphia, PA — The Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship is pleased to announce that four organ transplant recipients are the winners of its 2023-24 higher education scholarships.
The Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship is funded through the Gift of Life Transplant Foundation, the charitable foundation which supports the mission of Gift of Life Donor Program. Each year, the scholarship program issues $2,500 awards to transplant recipients seeking higher education. The scholarship was created in memory of heart transplant recipient Jessica Beth Schwartz.
“Each year I am inspired by the challenging journey these young men and women have experienced at such a young age,” says Jessie’s mother and scholarship co-founder, Janice Schwartz-Donahue. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to continue to honor my daughter’s legacy by helping these students pursue higher education.”
2023-2024 Scholarship Winners:
Erin Brenner – Toms River, NJ
While in her mother’s womb, Erin’s parents were told she was going to be born very ill. Five weeks after birth, Erin was diagnosed with a genetic disease called Primary Hyperoxaluria. She received a liver transplant at 10 months old. Throughout childhood, Erin’s prescribed medications began to take a toll on her body, leading to chronic kidney failure. Her kidney function continued to decline to 12 percent without dialysis until she was 14 years old. Fortunately, the summer of Erin’s freshman year, she received a kidney transplant from her older sister. Despite health challenges over the years, the liver and kidney transplant recipient maintained an active lifestyle. She’s been involved with Girl scouting, Irish dancing, recreational sports, karate, bowling and volunteering for Gift of Life Donor Dash, just to name a few.
“My favorite activity is preparing for and competing in the Transplant Games of America.”
Erin is currently in college studying to become a child life therapist.
Noah Lamey – Upper Chichester, PA
Noah found out he was living with heart failure at nine years old. While waiting for a new heart, he continued to stay involved in sports and interact with other kids. Nine months after being listed on the waitlist, Noah received his life-saving heart transplant in June 2014, on his 10th birthday. During the following school years, the determined athlete rejoined his football and basketball team. Now in college, Noah has continued to play in a summer basketball league for the past five years. He has participated as part of a combined team with his donor’s family at the Donor Dash for the past three years.
“I may not be the same player that I used to be, but it meant the whole world to me to be able to go out and participate in the things that I loved.”
Noah just started his sophomore year at West Chester University.
Ryan Glavin – Mullica Hill, NJ
Shortly after birth, the majority of Ryan’s small intestine was removed. He was then put on TPN, an IV nutrition, to help his body absorb nutrients. This supplement eventually led to Ryan’s liver failure before he even turned one. Months later, his mom was able to donate part of her liver to Ryan, giving him a second chance at life. Because of his transplant, Ryan participates in Gift of Life’s Donor Dash with his team, Rally for Ryan. He also brings baked goods to transplant patients and their families staying at Gift of Life Howie’s House.
“Taking part in these activities fills me with such joy since I was in a similar position at such a young age.”
Ryan is now a freshman at Rowan University and plans on joining a club/team to help spread awareness of the importance of organ donation.
Tyler Webb – Harrisburg, PA
Tyler found out he needed a new liver during his freshman year of high school.Although very active in sports, Tyler said he was experiencing extreme fatigue and he no longer had the energy to continue, which raised concern. As a result, he had to attend school online, which took a toll on his social life. He was listed for a liver transplant in October 2019. A year later, Tyler received the call that changed his life. The doctors found a match for a new liver. His transplant recovery required that Tyler take some time off from high school, resulting in pushing his graduation date back a year.
“What I have learned through the help and support of my family and my team of doctors and professionals at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, is that everyone’s journey is different.”
Tyler is now a freshman at Pace University.
Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship
Just a few days after she was born, Jessica Beth Schwartz was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Her heart and body began to slow down by the age of 14. But thanks to someone who said yes to organ donation, Jessica was able to experience eight and a half additional years of life.
A total of 79 students have been awarded scholarships since the fund was created in 2003 in her honor.
To be eligible for the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship, students must be an organ or tissue transplant recipient under the age of 25, seniors in high school, or be enrolled in a two or four-year college, university, trade or technical school.
To contribute to the Jessica Beth Schwartz Memorial Scholarship Fund, or for more information on scholarship criteria, visit www.jessiesday.org.
Gift of Life Donor Program
Gift of Life Donor Program is the non-profit, federally-designated organ procurement organization, working with 126 acute care hospitals and 12 transplant centers to serve 11.3 million people in the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. Thanks to its compassionate community, for the past 15 years, Gift of Life has coordinated the most life-saving organs for transplant in the United States. Its annual donation rate ranks among the highest in the world. Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 58,000 life-saving organs for transplant, and more than 2 million tissue transplants have resulted from the generosity of donors and their families. One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, and a tissue donor can improve the lives of about 100 others. For more information or to register, visit donors1.org.