Joyful Christmas for 4-Year-Old Saved by Selfless Stranger


Tisha Young, a mother of three from Texas, and Tami Gappa, whose 4-year-old son, Sam, received a life-saving gift of a kidney from Tisha, tell their inspiring story on Christopher Closeup. The half-hour interview is now available for free download at  It will also.air on Sunday, December 28th, at 7 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. EST on The Catholic Channel, Sirius 159 and XM 117.

Tami, a member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Dallas, TX recounts how, at  nine months, Sam was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a potentially-fatal form of childhood cancer, the treatment for which required several rounds of chemotherapy and numerous surgeries, resulting in him needing a kidney transplant.

Enter Tisha, a virtual stranger, whose sister worked with Tami’s husband. Though she had never met Sam or his parents, Tisha explains how having young children herself – one just three weeks older than Sam – the Gappa’s plight really “hit home.”

Both women credit their faith and families as sources of strength, and say the journey only deepened their respective relationships with God. Though both admit it wasn’t all smooth sailing emotionally, Tisha and Tami describe experiencing a similar serenity throughout the ordeal.

Tami recalls how on the same day that Sam was confirmed – in the hospital as he was about to undergo one of his many procedures – Pope Benedict was elected. They chose “Benedict” as his confirmation name. Ironically, St. Benedict turned out to be the patron saint of kidneys.

Tisha, who spent several nights “on my knees” in prayer, said overall the choice was easy, seeing God’s hand in her decision, “This is what He wanted me to do.” In trying to explain the peace-of-mind she felt, she chuckles confidently, “God’s got my back.”

Maryknoll Father James Keller founded the Christophers in 1945 with the purpose of encouraging individuals to use their God-given talents to make a positive difference in the world by bringing Gospel values into the mainstream of life.  To learn more about The Christophers visit

image credit: Ann Beck Photography


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