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Salina woman awaiting heart transplant encourages people to think about organ donation

Dr. Eugene Storozynsky, a cardiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, listens to Carol Kankoski’s failing heart.  She is awaiting a heart transplant at URMC’s Strong Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Eugene Storozynsky, a cardiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, listens to Carol Kankoski’s failing heart. She is awaiting a heart transplant at URMC’s Strong Memorial Hospital.

— Carol Kankoski won’t be home for Christmas.

She won’t be home for New Year’s or Presidents Day. If she’s lucky, she’ll be home for St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s not likely.

Kankoski, of Mattydale, will be spending those holidays in the same place she’s spent the last eight weeks: the cardiac care unit of Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, where she is awaiting a heart transplant. Kankoski was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy—literally translated as a deterioration in the function of the actual heart muscle—in 1999. Her heart function began to decline in 2009 to the point where her regular cardiologist, Dr. Daniel Fuleihan of the New York Heart Center in Syracuse, decided to send her to Strong for regular checkups. Her last checkup was this past October. Kankoski has been at Strong ever since.

“She has done very well over the last two years,” said Dr. Eugene Storozynsky, Kankoski’s cardiologist at Strong Memorial. “Then I saw her back a few months ago... At that time, she had started to feel poorly. We decided to do some specialized testing and see whether her symptoms were just getting worse or if it was actually that her heart function had gotten worse. As a result of that testing, we decided she needed to be admitted and listed for transplant.”

“The day they kept me was very emotional,” Kankoski said. “I thought I’d go home. But everybody tells me I’m quite a tough one.”

Kankoski said she was saddened at the prospect of spending the holidays in the hospital while her family, which includes her two daughters, five grandchildren and one great-granddaughter, all of whom live in Syracuse.

“They came out to visit me on Thanksgiving,” she said. “For Christmas, it depends on the weather. I don’t want to worry about them driving both ways if there’s a snowstorm. I’d rather they just call.”

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