Her liver was accidentally “nicked” during a biopsy, causing unnoticed internal bleeding. A CODE BLUE was called when Mo collapsed one evening and the doctors fought to stabilize her while she lost her pulse four times in a matter of a few hours. The internal bleeding expedited Mo's need for a liver transplant, and doctors told her family there was only a 24-48 hour window for a live-saving transplant. Time was completely against her, but before the end of the day, her medical team got word there was a possible match and started to prep her for a transplant. Early the next morning, May 3, 2012, Mo was the recipient of a miraculous, life-saving liver transplant.
While the transplant was a great success, the worst was actually yet to come. Within a few days of her transplant, her brain began swelling. Mo had extreme headaches and was seeing flashing colored lights, and hearing voices. After an MRI, Mo's medical team discovered that she had contracted a lethal fungal infection, caused in part to the immunosuppression required after an organ transplant. The only option for survival was a very risky brain operation.
On May 23, 2012, three-weeks after her life-saving liver transplant, Mo had her first craniotomy. Doctors were unable to remove the infection in it's entirety, because there was a severe risk of blindness, loss of speech, and death. She was started on an aggressive treatment of Amphoteracin B, an anti-fungal treatment and Voriconizole for the next 10 days, but another MRI showed the infection remained, and a second craniotomy was necessary. The second brain surgery was even more risky, as Mo had already had two major surgeries within the last five weeks and her body was still immunosuppressed so it wouldn't reject her new organ transplant. The location of the infection also posed dangerous risks, but Mo survived despite the heavy odds against her. Invasive aspergillosis in patients with weakened immune systems, experienced a 99.9 % mortality rate at the time. Mo's infectious disease doctor at Yale, Dr. Topal, said, "You can count on one hand, worldwide, the number of immuno-compromised patients who have survived this infection."
She was considered "Disabled" by the state of Connecticut and spent 4-5 days a week receiving various treatments and therapy to regain her health, strength, endurance, vision, and speech skills. After two years of extensive therapy, Mo was able to slowly grind her way back to golf. She started by volunteering and working junior golf camps and First Tee clinics at Richter Park in Danbury, CT. With time, she was able to keep adding more work and responsibilities, testing her stamina and ability to perform in a work environment again. When the golf course closed for the Connecticut winter, Mo worked in the golf department as a Golf Sales Associate at Dick’s Sporting Goods. While at Dick's, Mo began pursuing her certification as an LPGA Golf Instructor, passing her 36-hole Player’s Ability Test.
From there, she landed a position as an Assistant Golf Professional at Tamarack Country Club, in Greenwich, CT, in the prestigious MET Section. While in Greenwich, Mo got her LPGA Class A Certification. After two years at Tamarack, Mo sought a job with more teaching opportunities and accepted a job at TPC Wakefield Plantation (Raleigh, NC). Josh Points, former Director of Instruction at Jim McLean Golf Academy, inspired Mo to pursue her passion for teaching. During her time at Wakefield, Mo also worked toward earning her PGA Class A status and TPI certifications. One of the highlights of her teaching career at Wakefield was developing a Junior Golf Workout Program (beginner and advanced juniors) with the physical trainer at Wakefield, Drew Forshey. The program received high regards and was featured in the McConnell Golf Magazine.
Mo's standout students at the time, Jace Butcher (12-14 years old) and Isaiah Adel (8-9) were often under par and claimed HJGT and US Kids victories in their respective divisions. After two amazing years at Wakefield, Mo wanted to return back home to St. Augustine, FL and work for her former instructor, Tom Burnett where she spent two more years honing her teaching craft and receiving additional TPI Certifications in Golf Level 2 and Junior. During this time, Mo had great success elevating competitive tournament golf juniors, helping them reach their maximum potential. Mo's students received several full-ride scholarship offers and produced numerous victories across local, statewide, and national championships.
She received her transplant from an anonymous donor, who she was unable to thank in person, so she gives thanks and shows gratitude by advocating for organ donation. She volunteered for Donate Life CT, and formed several teams to walk and raise money and awareness for the American Liver Foundation. Mo also met and was featured in a television package with her transplant idol, two-time heart recipient and PGA Tour Player, Erik Compton. In 2014, Mo joined the Transplant Team of Connecticut and trained to compete for the 2014 Transplant Games of America (Houston, TX). Mo competed in the Organ Recipient Ages 20-29 division, and won a Gold in Golf, a Silver in Table Tennis, and a Silver in the 5K with a time of 28:53.
After her move to Raleigh, Mo became a volunteer for Donate Life NC. She wanted to tie in her connections and experience with golf to raise awareness about organ donation. From the ground-up, Mo grew a group of supporters, volunteers, sponsors, and Spectrum News to pull-off the first-ever Donate Life NC Charity golf outing, "Just Say Mo Donate Life Golf Fore Charity Outing". The event was tremendously supported by friends, family, sponsors, members at WP, and even her medical team (her transplant surgeon flew in from Utah)! Mo and her supporters raised $11,000 for Donate Life NC.
Mo continues raising awareness about the importance of organ donation and spreading the word in Florida where she hopes to one day team-up with Erik Compton for a charity golf-related event to raise awareness.
Erik Compton is a PGA Tour Professional and Transplant Recipient--one of Mo's biggest inspirations.
Gesualdi created this fundraising and awareness event and developed a large team of supporters that raised over $11,000 for organ donation advocacy.
Yale Infectious Disease Doctor, Dr. Topal, explains Mo's brain scan
You could save a life as easily as checking the box to become an organ donor.
Mo speaks at the ALF Liver Life Walk in 2013, advocating for organ donation and sharing some of her incredible story.
Check out The Coach Mo Golf Show Podcast where Mo interviews collegiate and professional golfers, coaches, and others in the golf industry on topics that will help inform, educate, and create engagement with our listeners.