Tedisco presents liberty medal to Johnstown organ donor

Senator presents NYS Senate’s highest honor to mother of late Rich Carley, Jr.

In this photo from left to right: Mirella Casale, Sal Casale’s mother, Senator Tedisco, and Linda Cecconi, Rich Carley, Jr.’s mother. (Photo submitted)

JOHNSTOWN — Senator Jim Tedisco announced Friday that he presented the New York State Senate Liberty Medal posthumously to Johnstown native Rich Carley, Jr., who donated his kidney to save the life of his best friend, Sal Casale of Johnstown, and the lives of four other individuals, according to a news release.

Tedisco presented the Liberty Medal, the New York State Senate’s highest honor, to Rich Carley’s mother, Linda Cecconi of Johnstown. Sal Casale and his mother, Mirella Casale, also attended the Liberty Medal ceremony which was held in Tedisco’s Johnstown Regional Office.

Rich Carley, Jr., died of a heart attack in March 2018 at the age of 37. When Rich’s mom, Linda, learned he was an organ donor, the family reached out to her son’s childhood best friend, Sal Casale, as she knew Sal had kidney disease and was undergoing dialysis. Sal was tested and was a match and had surgery to receive one of Rich’s kidneys. Today, Sal is doing well and regular check-ups show his kidney is hitting the benchmarks for functioning that doctors look for following a transplant, the release stated.

While Sal Casale is the only recipient of Rich Carley, Jr.’s organs that his mother can name, Cecconi received word that her son’s other organs went to four other anonymous recipients.

“Rich Carley, Jr.’s last act of love and compassion as an organ donor has truly saved the lives of five people, including his best friend, Sal Casale, and is deserving of being posthumously honored with the New York State Senate Liberty Medal. I hope Rich Carley’s story and memory will inspire others to be organ donors who will save even more lives,” said Senator Jim Tedisco, according to the release.