The family of a Philadelphia girl who was declared tumor-free three years after receiving a kiss from the pope has donated $50,000 to the hospital that helped save her.
Gianna Masciantonio, who was kissed from Pope Francis while battling an inoperable brain tumor that landed her in hospice for the first six months of her life, is now gearing up for preschool.
Masciantonio’s story first went viral in 2015, when she was hoisted up by a member of the Swiss Guard during the papal visit so that he could kiss her. Pope Francis did not know that Masciantonio was diagnosed with histiocytosis, which was causing a potentially fatal brain tumor to grow on her brain stem. But scans after the visit showed that her tumor was almost undetectable.
“She’s blown our expectations out of the water in terms of how she’s doing,” Dr. Amish Shah, a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told CBS Philly. “She’s resilient and she’s tough and instead of taking all this as something to be fearful of, she’s really taking this in stride.”
The family’s foundation, “For the Love of Grace,” shared on Aug. 17 that they were making a $50,000 donation to CHOP for pediatric brain tumor research. Masciantonio’s father, Joey, said the hospital is special to them, and that while no money could ever repay their gratitude, “we just want to help the kids.”
“Seeing your kid run around and seeing her doing the things she’s doing with what they told us from the beginning is amazing,” Joey Masciantonio told the news outlet….
One of the most touching stories centered on little Gianna Masciantonio and her family.
Little Gianna was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor when she was just one month old. According to her father, Joey Masciantonio, she spent the first six months of her life in hospice care.
Her parents were told by medical professionals that she had “days to months to live.”
But Gianna has since defied those odds, and just celebrated her first birthday on September 17.
And when her family learned that Pope Francis was coming to town, they wanted him to bless their family, and especially their little girl.
But the family of four had no idea that they would even be able to get as close to the pope as they did.
“There are no words,” Kristen Masciantonio said on Good Day Philadelphia. “A gift from God.”
Kristen explained that one of her friends, Lori, is friends with someone who works for the FBI. Lori emailed the FBI connect months again, sharing Gianna’s story, but unfortunately there was nothing he could do at that point.
But the night before the family was planning on making their way into the city to see the pope, Lori received an email back. Kristen says that the email was sent late, so Lori didn’t see it until the next day.
Joey explained that they walked to the federal building where they got a sneak peek of the Popemobile before the pope’s took his ride around the city.
But at that point they still didn’t know they were going to see the Pope.
“We just thought we’d see him drive by. We never thought in a million years that he would bless our daughter,” Joey said.
A member of the Swiss Guard picked little Gianna up so that the Pope could bless her. Also, other marshals and FBI agents stood around the family, pointing and yelling towards the family so they would be noticed.
The blessing proved to be a significant improvement for baby Gianna’s health. Kristen tells FOX 29 that Gianna’s story has turned to truly be a miraculous one.
“We feel blessed for her incredible medical care and for God's grace. So, Gianna had her first scan since her kiss from Pope Francis. We are ecstatic to announce that her tumor is almost undetectable in a lot of the MRI cuts,” Kristen said.