University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

Liver Donor Awarded for Service

Pitt-Johnstown student and live liver donor Shauna McMillan made a difference.

Because of her lifesaving efforts, Shauna received the university’s Board of Advisors Service to Community Award on September 28, 2018. 

In July 2017, Shauna donated part of her liver and became a lifesaver for Peggy Caruso of Blairsville. Peggy had been diagnosed with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH. The disease causes liver inflammation and can lead to cirrhosis.

She was battling for her life. Family members were not able to donate, so they looked for ways through the media to let others know about her desperate need.

Shauna learned about Peggy’s situation in an online story in The Indiana Gazette. Soon, the Conemaugh Health Systems employee, mother of three, and Pitt-Johnstown pre-med student was evaluated and approved at UPMC's Thomas Starzl Transplant Center, Pittsburgh.

Two months later, the transplant took place. Peggy was discharged after 12 days, and said her doctors were “absolutely astounded” at her progress.

This past summer, the Carusos celebrated Shauna’s birthday with her.

“I’m so blessed to have Shauna come into my life,” Peggy said.

“My advice for anyone considering live liver donation is to make the call,” Shauna said. “You hold the power to save another person's life. And the cost is such a small price to pay for bringing hope to another family.”

Shauna received the Service to Community Award from Pitt-Johnstown’s President Jem Spectar and Board Chair Thomas Kurtz, class of '77.