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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.

— “They finally took me down at 4:30 and I went in with the anesthesiologist. The staff was absolutely fantastic. There were five or six of them who just sat with me and held my hand, one after another. They relaxed me. They were so great. Everybody was just so wonderful to me. There are the nicest people at this hospital, and they made it so easy for me. If you have to be sick, this is the place to be. I didn’t have time to get scared. The next thing I knew, I was back in the room with my family.”

Kankoski is now recovering in Strong’s step-down cardiac care unit, according to Storozynsky.

“She’s doing really well,” he said. “She has a temporary pacemaker, which occurs 100 percent of the time in transplant patients. We’re waiting for her own native heart rhythm to awaken. It’s going great. Her long-term prognosis is great.”

While Kankoski does face some risk of her body rejecting the organ, Storozynsky said that risk is minimized by high doses of immunosuppsressant drugs and close monitoring in the early weeks of recovery. Once her medication levels can be lowered and her new heart is beating on its own without the aid of the pacemaker, Kankoski can return home.

Kankoski said she’s feeling great.

“I’m not exaggerating,” she said. “They’re calling me wonder woman.”

She said she’s going to take full advantage of her second chance at life.

“I’m going to live life to its fullest,” Kankoski said. “I have more time with my family and my grandkids and my friends.”

She knows she has a family out there to thank for that second chance.

“I have to wait a year before I find out where the heart came from,” Kankoski said. “I want to thank them. How do you not? I understand the family’s privacy, but they gave such a gift. I have to do something. Hopefully I’ll find out sooner rather than later.”

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