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A new heart for Carol

Dr. Eugene Storozynsky listens to Carol Kankoski’s new heart beating strongly in her chest.  Surgeons at University of Rochester Medical Center performed a heart transplant on her Dec. 15. There are more than 800 people in the area awaiting new organs.

Dr. Eugene Storozynsky listens to Carol Kankoski’s new heart beating strongly in her chest. Surgeons at University of Rochester Medical Center performed a heart transplant on her Dec. 15. There are more than 800 people in the area awaiting new organs.

— It looks like Carol Kankoski might just be home for New Year’s after all.

When we last spoke to Kankoski, she had been waiting at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Strong Memorial Hospital for a new heart (“Give the gift of life,” Eagle Star-Review, Dec. 14). On Dec. 15, she got it.

“My doctor thinks I’ll be going home around the first of the year,” Kankoski said. “I’ll celebrate Christmas day and maybe New Year’s here, but it will be worth it.”

The 64-year-old Mattydale woman 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. At her last checkup, her cardiac function had become so poor that Dr. Eugene Storozynsky, Kankoski’s cardiologist at Strong, decided to admit her and put her on the list for a heart transplant.

In this region, there are 848 people awaiting organ transplants, including 52 who need a new heart. In New York, there are 10,000 people waiting for organs, more than 112,000 in the country, according to the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network,

The turn of events came very rapidly, Kankoski said.

“Last [Thursday] morning at about 7 a.m., one of the nurses came in and did my numbers,” she recalled. “I was still awake, and she pinched my toe, and said, ‘Hey, we found you a heart.’ I just looked at her, dumbfounded, and said, ‘What?’ She said, ‘We found you a heart, and if everything goes right, you’ll be going into surgery this afternoon.’ Then it was nothing but a fiasco in my room until 4:30 — they were drawing my blood, getting me prepared, it was just crazy.

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