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.
continued Kankoski will remain at Strong until a new heart becomes available for her.
Kankoski is one of nearly 10,000 patients awaiting an organ transplant in New York state. Nationwide, more than 112,000 patients are waiting for a new heart, lung, pancreas, kidney, liver or intestine.
Unfortunately, many people won’t get the organs they need to survive.
“A little over 2,000 transplants are done a year across the country, and about 10,000 patients are waiting for transplants in New York state,” Storozynsky said. “That means a lot of patients will not get transplanted. Some will wait a very long time. Some will die waiting.”
According to Donate Life New York, the state registry of organ donors, 658 people died statewide while waiting for organ transplants last year. This means that someone dies every 13 hours in the state because of the organ donor shortage.
In most cases, all it takes to become an organ donor is to discuss your wishes with your family, according to Rob Kochik, executive director of the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network (FLDRN).
“The real message we’re trying to get across is to encourage people to consider organ donation,” Kochik said. “Let your family know. When families know what your wishes are, they’re relieved that they don’t have to make that decision themselves.”
The FLDRN is responsible for matching potential organ donors with recipients in a 20-county area in the greater Syracuse-Rochester area. The organization is one of 58 organ procurement organizations in the U.S. and one of four in New York state.
“Hospitals are required by federal law to contact us every time a patient suffers loss of neurological function,” Kochik said. Whenever someone is admitted with a stroke, neurological injury, a car accident, brain injury—any time there is concern enough [that brain death is imminent], we go on site. We have staff standing by 24 hours.”