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It Takes Guts

Patient and Family Reunited With Liver Transplant Team

By Jackie Carr   |   March 24, 2017

​Five years ago, Monica Rossi Perackis’ vacation to the United States took an unexpected and fateful turn. On the eve of a visit to Disneyland with her family, Monica’s liver suddenly, completely failed.

Fortunately, the next stop for the mother of three from Italy was UC San Diego Health and the liver transplant team.

transplant reunion group

Pictured, (L-R): Antoinette Mantz, Dalia Iniguez, Joanie Salotti, Kelly Dobbins, Jackie Miranda, Dr. Alan Hemming, Monica Rossi Perackis, Michail Perackis, Cindy Cruz, and Doug Elmore.

“The first day that Monica opened her eyes after surgery, she asked me to kiss her. I will never forget that day,” said husband Michail.

Monica and Michail recently reunited with the transplant team to express their gratitude for the life-saving health care and hospitality they received.

“We found a great team with a great capacity for kindness. I wish we could name everyone, from Cindy Cruz to Cindy Collins, to Drs. Anderson, Napoles and Loomba. There was also Donovan, John, Maribel, Vito, Ernie, Vanessa and many others,” said Michail. “And, of course, Dr. Hemming, who physically saved my wife by transplanting her with a new liver.”

The Perackis family, who stayed at the Bannister Family House during her hospitalization, considered the liver transplant surgery a gift to their entire family.

“Monica and I got the gift of life — the opportunity to continue our life together for many more years. We have learned to enjoy every moment, and try not to consider life as a given,” said Michail.

As the Perackis family travels internationally, they advocate the importance of organ donation and participate in their local association of Liver Transplant Friends. The family also raises awareness of organ donation by promoting a special MVP award for their Italian rugby team called, “Ci vuole fegato” which in Italian, translates to “you need liver” or “you need to be courageous.” In English, it roughly means, “it takes guts.”

Monica and Michail

Monica and Michail recently reunited with the UC San Diego Health liver transplant team to express their gratitude for the life-saving health care and hospitality they received.

“Please do not hesitate to become an organ donor,” said Michail. “The gift of an organ is not just a gift for the person who receives it, is a gift for all of the people who surround the recipient.” 

“When Monica received a liver, a gift was also given to my children who still have their mother and I still have my wife. If you are considering donation, think of all who will benefit: mothers, children, husbands, friends. You aren’t giving your organ to one person, you are giving it to all the world! And the world will be happier for it.”

April is National Donate Life month. More than 119,000 men, women and children await lifesaving organ transplants in the U.S. Another person is added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list every 10 minutes. Sadly, 8,000 people die each year (22 people each day — almost one person each hour) because the organs they need are not donated in time. To learn more about becoming an organ donor, please visit

To learn more about the featured medical specialties, please visit:

Liver Center

Surgical Services

Transplantation Services