Family of girl declared tumor-free after kiss from pope donates $50G to Philadelphia hospital

The family of a Philadelphia girl who was declared tumor-free three years after receiving a kiss from the pope has donated $50,000 to the hospital that helped save her.

Gianna Masciantonio, who was kissed from Pope Francis while battling an inoperable brain tumor that landed her in hospice for the first six months of her life, is now gearing up for preschool.

Masciantonio’s story first went viral in 2015, when she was hoisted up by a member of the Swiss Guard during the papal visit so that he could kiss her. Pope Francis did not know that Masciantonio was diagnosed with histiocytosis, which was causing a potentially fatal brain tumor to grow on her brain stem. But scans after the visit showed that her tumor was almost undetectable.

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“She’s blown our expectations out of the water in terms of how she’s doing,” Dr. Amish Shah, a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told CBS Philly. “She’s resilient and she’s tough and instead of taking all this as something to be fearful of, she’s really taking this in stride.”

The family’s foundation, “For the Love of Grace,” shared on Aug. 17 that they were making a $50,000 donation to CHOP for pediatric brain tumor research. Masciantonio’s father, Joey, said the hospital is special to them, and that while no money could ever repay their gratitude, “we just want to help the kids.”

“Seeing your kid run around and seeing her doing the things she’s doing with what they told us from the beginning is amazing,” Joey Masciantonio told the news outlet.