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In death, Nebraska girl helps Pennsylvania boys live on

PITTSBURGH -- A Nebraska girl who died of brain cancer Tuesday at age 3 is posthumously helping two Pennsylvania children.

Olivia Swedberg's mother saw 2-year-old Lucas Goeller's story on Facebook and messaged his mother in Pittsburgh telling her she wanted to give him Olivia's liver.

Goeller received the organ during a transplant surgery that began Wednesday night and ended Thursday morning.

Though their blood types did not match, doctors proceeded with the transplant.

Dr. George Mazariegos, chief of pediatric transplantation at the Lawrenceville hospital, tells the Tribune-Review that Goeller would have died within weeks without the new liver.

Angelo Giorno, of Hershey, received Olivia's intestine and spleen. The 4-year-old suffers from a condition known as short gut syndrome. He was born with his intestines outside his body.

He is forced to spend 16 hours a day attached to an IV to get nutrition, CBS Pittsburgh reports.

Dean Kuhns and his husband Dale Darazio took Angelo into their family three years ago, as soon as they met him.

But they say it's been a rough road for their little boy, with numerous infections and trips to the hospital.

After hoping and hoping for a transplant, they got a call telling them to get to Children's Hospital immediately.

"Almost here to the hospital, we got stopped by the city police for speeding!" said Kuhns. But after they explained their situation: "The officer said, 'Let's go!' He threw on the lights, the siren, and he brought us the rest of the way in."

Angelo gave a thumbs up before the 10-hour operation to give him a new intestine.

Dr. Rakesh Sindhi from Children's Hospital said, "The procedure went quite well. The organs were a good fit."

Kuhns and Darazio are incredibly grateful to the little girl's family for making the decision to donate her organs.

"We can't thank you enough. Thank you doesn't even sum it up," said Darazio. "There's probably not a word in our language."

And as for Angelo, he's already talking: "We were actually in the room when they took the tube out and this first words were, 'Daddy! Juice,'" said Kuhns.

While there's still a long road ahead, they believe this is the beginning of a new life for their little boy. "We look at it, today as a new birthday for him."

While insurance covers some of the costs, they're still facing some big medical bills.

They're involved with a group that helps raise money for transplant costs. For more information: http://cotaforangelog.com/

Also, you can check out Angelo's Transplant Page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/angelostransplant/timeline

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