Teen’s Lifesaving Legacy Lives Through Others

Izaiah’s friends and basketball teammates at Maine West. High School honored him with hoodies sporting his name and basketball jersey number.

After a tragic accident took 15-year-old Izaiah Francheschi’s life, he became an organ and tissue donor. His gifts have saved and enhanced the lives of people in 10 states and in South Korea—including the life of a six-month-old baby boy.

The infant received part of Izaiah’s liver in lifesaving organ transplant. A few months later, his mom Irma had a chance to meet the baby whose life Izaiah saved and the infant’s family. She saw in the healthy baby that Izaiah’s legacy lives on.

Izaiah was an athletic 15-year-old with big plans. He was passionate about basketball. Irma says Izaiah spent every free minute training and conditioning for basketball season and often talked about the house he would buy for his family once he played for the NBA.

At Maine West High School in Des Plaines, Ill. Izaiah brought people together. He was well-liked by students and teachers alike. He was eager to learn, a dedicated student and a leader who brought positive energy to his team. When the accident that would take his life occurred in May 2017, Irma authorized organ and tissue donation on his behalf with the support of his father, Thomas.

“I know that this is what my son would have wanted me to do. His loving and giving personality helped me with this decision,” Irma recalls.

Today, a gold bench on the grounds of Maine West celebrates Izaiah and his legacy. Students, teammates and faculty joined his family and close friends at a dedication ceremony with Gift of Hope staff.

“Izaiah would have been extremely happy. Since he was very popular and charismatic, this would have touched his heart and soul. I know Izaiah was with us and smiling high above in heaven during this event,” Irma says.

Izaiah’s family and friends have continued to celebrate him, including holding a 16th birthday party at his favorite park. They organized a volleyball tournament, a basketball contest, games and a water balloon fight. The next year over 50 people took part in a fundraising bike ride through the community with a group prayer at the tree that had been planted in his honor. The money raised that day was donated toward a college scholarship for Izaiah’s school mentor.

Irma’s message to people who are asked to say yes donation when their family member dies is: Think of the others whose lives can be saved through organ and tissue donation.

“Your family member’s memory will live on through others.”

Izaiah is among the Illinois student-athletes that the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) and Donate Life Illinois honor along with their families and communities for saying “yes” to organ, tissue and eye donation. For the fifth year in 2022, we are partnering with IHSA to encourage high school students to become educated about donation and “Say Yes” to joining the Illinois Organ/Tissue Donor Registry upon receiving their driver’s licenses.