News & Events

Donor Network in the News

AdWeek, October 2, 2014: Ad of the Day: New York City Is Dying in Y&R's Gorgegous Organ Donor PSA

WNBC 4 New York, September 24, 2014: "NY Is Dying" Subway Ads Generate Buzz

Eyewitness New ABC 7, April 29, 2014: Organ Donors, Connected for Life

News 12 Brooklyn, April 23, 2014: New York Organ Donor Network holds donor awareness event at Lutheran Medical Center

Northport Patch, April 23, 2014: Marcie Mazzola Memorial 5K Run/Walk is Sunday in Huntington

Brooklyn Eagle, April 22, 2014: Lutheran Medical Center Seeks to Education Public on Organ Donation

Huntington Patch, April 16, 2014: April is Organ Donation Month in Huntington

Times Union.com, April 10, 2014: A New Way to N.Y.’s Heart

Metro NY, April 9, 2014: Organ Donations in Short Supply in NY

Times Herald Record, April 7, 2014: New York is 49th out of 50 States in Organ Donation

Rye Daily Voice, April 3, 2014: Westchester Medical Center Encourages Organ Donations

New York Daily News, January 30, 2012: Mom Urges Hispanics to Donate Organs

New York Daily News, December 30, 2011: Liver Transplant is Gift of Life for Queens Baby

Astoria Times/Jackson Heights Times, August 12, 2011: Thrisha White Pushes for More Organ Donor Applicants

June 25, 2011: Lap4Life Raises  $12,000 for New York Organ Donor Network

New York Daily News, June 16, 2011: Bronx Dad Celebrating First Father's Day Without Dialysis After Kidney Transplant

The Islip Bulletin, June 2, 2011: Bike Tour a Success

The New York Times, May 16, 2011: One Death Provides Life for Many

New York Daily News, April 12, 2011:TALL CHALLENGE - Ex-Jets QB Esiason and 7-Foot '30 Rock' Star Chapman  Pushing New Yorkers to Be Organ Donors

Times Herald-Record, April 1, 2011: Editorial: No Need to Wait to Be an Organ Donor

 

October 2, 2014
AdWeek

Ad of the Day: New York Is Dying in Gorgeous Y&R Organ Donation PSA

The iconic clock from Grand Central Terminal symbolizes the heart of New York City in this impressive 90-second animated film from Y&R, part of its campaign backing the New York Organ Donor Network.

There's darkness all around, and time is running out for Gotham as the clock struggles to keep ticking. Brick facades crumble. Cabs crawl past pedestrians who shuffle dejectedly through the streets. Even the Statue of Liberty slumps her shoulders. But ultimately, folks collect bits and pieces of NYC—subway signs, manhole covers, fire hydrants—to build a fantastical new machine (with a familiar design) that just might save the day.

The tagline pays off the plot, and viewers are directed to LongLiveNY.org for more.

"Next-to-last place—we are ranked 49th in terms of the percentage of state residents registered as organ donors—is not good enough for New York," Y&R executive creative director Glen Jacobs tells Adweek. "We need to move the needle, so organ donors can save lives. Period."


Click here for full story

 

September 24, 2014
WNBC 4

"NY Is Dying" Subway Ads Generate Buzz

NEW YORK -- If you've noticed these strange ads on the subway lately, don't be alarmed: it's part of an effort to raise awareness about organ donors. Stacey Bell reports.

Click here to view story

April 29,2014
Eyewitness News ABC 7

Organ Donors: Connected For Life

We New Yorkers, so proud of our "top dog status" in so many areas, are now last when it comes to donating life-saving organs. Every other state in the nation has more organ donors than New York.

WABC-TV, in connection with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is inviting viewers to answer the call to be an organ donor. We'll sort through the myths and talk to the experts. "Organ Donors: Connected for Life" is a half-hour special hosted by Eyewitness News Anchor Liz Cho.

We'll learn about living donors and hear how one young man from New Jersey donated a piece of his liver to his brother and how they're both on a crusade to spread the word about the importance of registering to be an organ donor. We'll see how a donated kidney changed the quality of life of a Staten Island man and a Broadway actor.

Deceased donors are heroes to many families in our area, including a young father with a new heart. Outreach and education is crucial and we'll see what's being done to raise awareness. We'll hear from former NFL pro Boomer Esiason about his personal reasons for bringing awareness to this issue. And we'll get answers to the most asked questions when it comes to organ donation.

Experts featured include physicians and surgeons from NY-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical Center and the New York Organ Donor Network.

Note: Recently, "Connected for Life" from 2013 was awarded the New York Emmy award for a special in the Societal Concerns category.

We hope you can join us for "Organ Donors: Connected for Life" on Saturday, April 26th at 7 p.m.

 

 

 

April 23, 2014
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Lutheran Medical Center seeks to educate public on organ donations
Advocates say 10,000 New Yorkers are on transplant waiting list

Dr. Anthony Geraci, vice president of the Department of Neurology-Rehabilitation at Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park, said he knows from personal experience how a donated organ can prolong a patient’s life.

Geraci’s father underwent a kidney transplant in 1974 and lived for another 37 years. At the time of his death in 2011, Mr. Geraci was one of the longest surviving kidney transplant recipients in the country.

"I can't express the importance of organ donation and signing up now," his son said. “I can hardly think of a more selfless and kind expression of humanity other than giving a complete stranger the gift of life."

In addition to his duties as VP one of Lutheran Medical Center’s busiest departments, Anthony Geraci is also chairman of the Lutheran HealthCare’s Organ Donor Council, a group that seeks to educate the public on the importance of organ donations. Lutheran HealthCare is the corporation that oversees the hospital and a string of health clinics across Brooklyn.

Geraci is spearheading an organ donor awareness event to be held on Wednesday, April 23, in the main lobby of the hospital, 150 55th St., from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Organ Donor Council is working in partnership with the New York Organ Donor Network to organize the educational event to highlight the impact of organ, eye, and tissue donation and to encourage people to enroll on the New York State Donate Life Registry.

Brooklyn residents are invited to attend the event, meet New York Organ Donor Network staff members, and learn more about the organ donation process, including the facts and common misconceptions about donating organs.

The event is timed to coincide with Donate Life Month in April.

There is a lot happening on the organ donation front. The New York Alliance for Donation, a not-for-profit organization composed of organ and tissue recovery organizations throughout the state, health professionals and individuals whose lives have been affected by donation,  is lauding Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature for taking steps to improve the performance of the New York State Donate Life Registry.

The 2014-15 state budget approved in Albany last month allows for the transfer of administration of the state donor registry to a not-for-profit organization with experience facilitating organ, eye and tissue donation.

"New York will now join nearly every other state by establishing this partnership with a private organization to increase organ donations. It gives new hope to thousands of New Yorkers waiting for their chance to receive the gift of life through an organ transplant," said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park), who sponsored the legislation.

"This change in policy will save and improve lives of New Yorkers by creating a technologically advanced, highly-functioning and user-friendly organ, eye and tissue donor registry," said Aisha Tator, executive director of the alliance.

"I want to thank Governor Cuomo and members of the senate and assembly for their efforts concerning the Donate Life Registry. With their help we will be able to continue to educate New Yorkers on the wonderful gift of organ donation. It will save thousands of lives in New York,’ said 12-year-old Lauren Shields, a heart transplant recipient from Rockland County.

Rachael Adler, 13, a kidney transplant recipient from upstate New York, said she will work to increase organ donations. "I was a happy and healthy kid when I got sick and found out I needed a kidney transplant. I realized this could happen to anyone which inspired me to do whatever I can to increase donation. I want to provide new hope for those people waiting for a transplant," she said.

Every year, more than 1,500 New Yorkers receive kidneys, livers, and hearts that have been donated for transplants, according to the alliance.

But more than 10,000 New Yorkers are still on waiting lists, the organization noted.

One person donating organs (hearts, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestine) can save up to eight lives, while tissue donors (corneas, bone, skin, heart valves, tendons, veins, etc.) can improve 12 or more lives by restoring eyesight, helping fight infections in burn patients and prevent the loss of mobility and disability, according to the alliance.

 

 

April 23, 2014
Northport Patch

Marcie Mazzola Memorial 5K Run/Walk is Sunday in Huntington
Proceeds will establish Huntington YMCA Summer Camp scholarships and benefit NY Organ Donor Network and Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Runners – and walkers, too – get set. The Marcie Mazzola Foundation is hosting the 8th Annual Marcie Mazzola Memorial 5K Run/Walk in Huntington Sunday.

The run-walk begins at 8:30 a.m., and a half-mile kids fun run starts at 8 a.m. Check-in at the day of the race at the Huntington YMCA at 60 Main Street. 

The proceeds will establish Huntington YMCA Summer Camp scholarships for kids and will benefit the New York Organ Donor Network and the Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, organizers say.

Learn about the race by visiting the foundation's website. Online registration is available. To print out a form, click here. The event also has a dedicated Facebook page.  

Sponsorships are available. Call the Marcie Mazzola Foundation 631-858-1855 for more information.

 

 

 

April 22, 2014
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Advocates say 10,000 New Yorkers are on transplant waiting list

BROOKLYN -- Dr. Anthony Geraci, vice president of the Department of Neurology-Rehabilitation at Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park, said he knows from personal experience how a donated organ can prolong a patient’s life.

Geraci’s father underwent a kidney transplant in 1974 and lived for another 37 years. At the time of his death in 2011, Mr. Geraci was one of the longest surviving kidney transplant recipients in the country.

"I can't express the importance of organ donation and signing up now," his son said. “I can hardly think of a more selfless and kind expression of humanity other than giving a complete stranger the gift of life."

In addition to his duties as VP one of Lutheran Medical Center’s busiest departments, Anthony Geraci is also chairman of the Lutheran HealthCare’s Organ Donor Council, a group that seeks to educate the public on the importance of organ donations. Lutheran HealthCare is the corporation that oversees the hospital and a string of health clinics across Brooklyn.

Geraci is spearheading an organ donor awareness event to be held on Wednesday, April 23, in the main lobby of the hospital, 150 55th St., from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Organ Donor Council is working in partnership with the New York Organ Donor Network to organize the educational event to highlight the impact of organ, eye, and tissue donation and to encourage people to enroll on the New York State Donate Life Registry.

Brooklyn residents are invited to attend the event, meet New York Organ Donor Network staff members, and learn more about the organ donation process, including the facts and common misconceptions about donating organs.

The event is timed to coincide with Donate Life Month in April.

There is a lot happening on the organ donation front. The New York Alliance for Donation, a not-for-profit organization composed of organ and tissue recovery organizations throughout the state, health professionals and individuals whose lives have been affected by donation,  is lauding Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature for taking steps to improve the performance of the New York State Donate Life Registry.

The 2014-15 state budget approved in Albany last month allows for the transfer of administration of the state donor registry to a not-for-profit organization with experience facilitating organ, eye and tissue donation.

"New York will now join nearly every other state by establishing this partnership with a private organization to increase organ donations. It gives new hope to thousands of New Yorkers waiting for their chance to receive the gift of life through an organ transplant," said Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park), who sponsored the legislation.

"This change in policy will save and improve lives of New Yorkers by creating a technologically advanced, highly-functioning and user-friendly organ, eye and tissue donor registry," said Aisha Tator, executive director of the alliance.

"I want to thank Governor Cuomo and members of the senate and assembly for their efforts concerning the Donate Life Registry. With their help we will be able to continue to educate New Yorkers on the wonderful gift of organ donation. It will save thousands of lives in New York,’ said 12-year-old Lauren Shields, a heart transplant recipient from Rockland County.

Rachael Adler, 13, a kidney transplant recipient from upstate New York, said she will work to increase organ donations. "I was a happy and healthy kid when I got sick and found out I needed a kidney transplant. I realized this could happen to anyone which inspired me to do whatever I can to increase donation. I want to provide new hope for those people waiting for a transplant," she said.

Every year, more than 1,500 New Yorkers receive kidneys, livers, and hearts that have been donated for transplants, according to the alliance.

But more than 10,000 New Yorkers are still on waiting lists, the organization noted.

One person donating organs (hearts, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestine) can save up to eight lives, while tissue donors (corneas, bone, skin, heart valves, tendons, veins, etc.) can improve 12 or more lives by restoring eyesight, helping fight infections in burn patients and prevent the loss of mobility and disability, according to the alliance.



April 16, 2014
Huntington Patch

April Is 'Organ Donation Month' in Huntington
Residents urged to consider participating in the New York State Donate Life Registry

April is now “Organ Donation Month” in Huntington, officials say.

The Huntington Town Board declared the initiative at its April 8 board meeting, urging residents to consider participating in the New York State Donate Life Registry.

More than 10,000 people in New York are on the waiting list for a transplant and the number of persons on the waiting list far exceeds the number of donors, town officials say. Every 15 hours, someone in New York dies waiting for an organ.

By declaring April Organ Donation Month, the board hopes to provide an opportunity to help people learn more about organ donation. Board members also aim to help recognize the critical need for organ, eye, tissue, bone marrow and blood donation. And they hope to assist the thousands of patients awaiting transplantation, according to the town.

To increase awareness, and to help people sign up for the registry, the town has placed a link to the New York Organ Donor Network at the bottom of the home page on the town’s website. People can also visit the New York Organ Donor Network online.

 

 


April 10, 2014
Times Union

A New Way to N.Y.'s Heart

Our opinion: The way to a better state organ donor registry program is through transparency, not secrecy or trickery.

Here’s a statistic that’s not worth bragging about: New York has the nation’s third lowest rate of organ donor registration.

It’s hard to imagine we’re that stingy a state. So we applaud lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo for being willing to take a fresh look at the donor registry. Turf, bureaucracy, and inertia should not stand in the way of improving a program that has the potential to save so many more lives.

At the same time, we offer this caution: Don’t kill this effort with either misplaced enthusiasm or secrecy.

At any given time, there are more than 120,000 people in this country awaiting organ donations. The wait can range from months to years.

Clearly, New York can do more when it comes to fostering organ donation. According to the New York Alliance for Donation, the state’s sign-up rate is just 22 percent. The only worse results are in Puerto Rico, at 16 percent, and Vermont, 13 percent. Nationally, the average is 47 percent, and 33 states have surpassed what donation advocates consider a prime goal of more than 50 percent. Montana tops the list at 84 percent.

Why New York’s rate is so low isn’t entirely clear. But in hope of improving it, the state plans to turn what’s been a government program into a public-private venture, teaming up with an outside entity to boost participation in the donor registry.

Advocates suspect one of the main problems is that the sign-up process in New York is too cumbersome. What takes a minute in some states is more arduous here. The state’s registration methods range from the very easy — checking off a box on a driver’s license application or renewal form — to the inconvenient — filling out a form and having to mail it in. Texas, which just a few years ago was far behind New York, now has a streamlined process and recently surpassed New York in its rate of enrollment.

But convenience doesn’t explain it all. Texas still ranks fourth from the bottom nationally. Both states would seem to have marketing problems.

And that’s where the effort will require some finesse — finding the right balance between tastefully and sensitively promoting organ donation while not being so eager that it turns people off.

New York looked several years ago, for example, at a rather heavy-handed policy of “presumed consent,” under which people who obtained driver’s licenses would automatically become registered organ donors. It was an offensive idea and a counterproductive strategy, creating what researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine warned would be a negative public perception that the program was all too eager to harvest people’s organs, even by trickery.

What’s needed here is a fully transparent process in redesigning and marketing the program, not a secretive scheme that leaves people feeling as if they’re being manipulated into signing their bodies away to the state.

The first goal is not people’s organs. It’s public trust.

 

 

 

April 9, 2014
New York Metro

New York struggles to keep pace with demand for organ donations

Sixteen years ago, Ira Copperman didn’t know much about organ and tissue donations.

It wasn’t his wife was told her kidney was failing that the pair of them were immersed in the state’s ongoing struggle to find enough New Yorkers willing to donate vital organs upon their passing so that others might be able to live.

And the numbers for New York City aren’t any better.

By 1998, Copperman’s wife was in need of a new kidney and pancreas due to complications from preexisting diabetes. The Upper West Side couple immediately dove into the rigors of the care that she needed while they waited for a donor, eventually joining the Transplant Support Organization that operates in Westchester.

“We managed,” Copperman, 69, said of the wait for his wife’s treatment. “We both wore beepers — we would wake up in the middle of the night to take blood tests.”

It took 14 months before doctors at Weill-Cornell Medical Center were able to find a match for his wife, now 68 years old and still in good health. Copperman is now co-president of the support organization, and the couple actively works with the group to bring in new registrants into the donor database.

Generally speaking, registration isn’t necessary for a person to donate their remains for those in need, but it does serve as a legal declaration of what the deceased’s final wishes were, Dr. Lloyd Ratner, a surgical director at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital explained.

Today, more than 10,500 New Yorkers statewide are waiting for organ and tissue donations — almost one tenth of the national wait list. The New York Alliance for Donation estimates that the state ranks about the third in need for donations nationwide.

At the same time, New York has consistently ranked at the bottom of the nation’s enrollment rate. While about 43 percent of the country’s eligible residents are enrolled to donate, only 22.8 percent of New York’s are signed up.

Ratner, also a board chairman with the New York Organ Donor Network, indicated that while the latest numbers are an improvement from two or three years ago, the disparity between need and availability is only getting worse.

“The demand keeps increasing while the number of organs stays the same,” said Ratner, who treats patients in the New York City area and parts of upstate.

The resulting stakes are real for those who wait for an available match. Ratner explained that 6 to 7 percent of patients waiting for a kidney transplant alone will die within the year.

“If you have to wait for five years, which is common in most on the programs in New York, you’re talking a 30 percent chance of being dead,” he added.

But not only are New York State’s numbers well below national averages, but four of the five counties in New York City have an even lower rate of success.

Manhattan has almost 30 percent of its 1.2 million eligible residents signed up as potential donors — outdoing the state’s overall numbers. The outer boroughs, however, don’t fare as well.

As of late March, Staten Island only has about 15.5 percent of its eligible population enrolled, while Brooklyn boasts 13.75 percent enrollment. Meanwhile, the Bronx has 11.9 percent of its qualified population are signed up.

Queens rounds out the five boroughs as having the lowest rate of enrollment. Only 11.07 percent of the 1.7 million eligible residents are in the state registry. Across the state, only Orleans County — with its 42,800 residents sandwiched between Buffalo and Rochester — has lower enrollment numbers.

Advocates have long blamed the state’s low enrollment numbers on how difficult it is for New Yorkers to sign up with the donation registry.

Potential donors have to sift through a maze of websites and print outs in order to formally declare their intent to donate, a process might discourage some well-intentioned potential enrollees.

“The process to enroll is so cumbersome that a lot of people start and don’t finish,” said Aisha Tator, executive director for the New York Alliance for Donation.

Tator said the state is working make the registration process as painless and transparent as possible to match the New Yorkers’ expectations.

Currently, the state offers New Yorkers a handful of ways to register as donors. All but one, however, can be done electronically.

Those interested in enrolling in the registry can go the route most commonly used by the rest of the country: through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Even so, that digital enrollment option is only available for those with either a driver’s license or identification card.

Those without a license or card can go to the DMV the old-fashioned way and sign up there, or they fill out an electronic form on the state’s Department of Health website that then has to be printed signed and mailed to Albany.

The push to boost the state’s enrollment numbers, however, have resulted in new ways for residents to register for donor status. In 2009, New York began to offer organ and tissue donor enrollment through voter registration — the only state in the country to do so.

Patients and advocates are also looking at state lawmakers to follow through on its commitment to transfer the state registry’s administration to a non-profit operation — a move that Tator said will help modernize the system.

There’s no firm dates or details yet on how the state might begin to change over operations into the proposed public-private partnership, but Tator admitted that any changes to the process are only half the equation.

“This issue does need statewide promotion,” she said. “The donation community does outreach, but we don’t have a statewide promotional campaign, and the state didn’t put that investment in yet.”

Part of putting the message to donate on people’s radar, Ratner said, convincing New Yorkers that organ and tissue donation is about more than just one life.

“We often think about what it will do to the recipient and not what it does for the deceased and their family,” he said. “I think a lot of people find solace in the fact that something good comes out of a terrible tragedy.”

 

New York is 49th out of 50 states in organ donation
Enrollment sorely lacking

Here's a surprising fact: New York ranks 49th out of the 50 states in percentage of registered organ donors.

That's a situation the New York Organ Donor Network wants to change. "It's a shocking statistic, and we're not very happy about it," says Julia Rivera, the network's director of communications.

That's how Patricia Mayer Van Duser feels, too. Born and raised in Newburgh, Van Duser has been teaching fifth-grade at Fostertown Elementary School for more than 20 years. Since January 2013, she's been on the waiting list for a donor kidney.

A frustrating wait

Van Duser carries a beeper that will alert her as soon as a donor match has been made for her. When that happens, she and two other matches will have to hurry down to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City to see which one of them will receive a donor kidney.

Van Duser, who will turn 50 in May, is one of 10,000 New Yorkers waiting for an organ transplant today, according to the Donor Network. Nationwide, some 130,000 people are on waiting lists. A single donor has the potential to save up to eight lives, Rivera points out. And that's why it's so frustrating to her that more New Yorkers haven't signed up to save a life.

"The big deal here is that people don't understand that when you sign up on the registry, it simply provides your family an opportunity to know your wishes. It documents your decision so nobody can change that," Rivera says.

There are two easy ways to become a registered organ donor in New York. The state has recently simplified its donor registry that accompanies driver license applications and renewals. And, Donor Network has its own site: donatelifeny.org/hate-the-wait 

Local students raise $5,000

The push to make Orange County residents aware of the need for organ donors resonated with students at Van Duser's Fostertown School in Newburgh. Last fall, second- and fifth-grade students there raised more than $5,000 for the New York Organ Donor Network when they held a walkathon.

If living in wait for a lifesaving organ is not difficult enough, there's also the day-to-day stress of working and living with compromised health. With a class of 24 students, Van Duser says it's essential that she have the stamina to do the job she loves.

She was diagnosed with a hereditary form of kidney disease about 10 years ago. Last year, her kidneys failed and she began dialysis. Now, she administers it herself several times a day. It's a tough way to live.

Van Duser's family members were tested to see if they were a match, but because of the nature of this hereditary disease, they could not be donors.

Even Van Duser's former first-grade teacher signed up to be tested, but was ultimately ruled out.

Exhaustion dominates

"My biggest concern and the reason I am on the organ donation list," she says, is that her energy level is not what it used to be. Her disease and treatments are "just exhausting. And then when your kidneys are compromised, your immune system is compromised."

Working in an elementary school exposes her to germs that would not have bothered her in the past. "A simple cold that for the last 25 years I would be able to fight, I cannot," she says.

Van Duser said that she often gets people saying they're surprised she's so sick, because she happens to look OK. "The worst part is that I look good, but I feel terrible," she says. "People say, 'You're sick?'"

Van Duser is currently out on sick leave, but she hopes to return to the classroom this spring. "My immune system is quite compromised, but hopefully, the doctor will say I can return soon," she says.

More donors needed

Meanwhile, she continues to help raise awareness for the cause and its long-lasting benefits. Recipients of donated organs "go on to live normal, healthy lives after their transplants," she says. "I hope to go on to watch my son (now a high school senior) play college basketball."

Why haven't more New Yorkers joined up? Rivera of the Donor Network can only speculate: "We know that New Yorkers are very, very busy," she muses. But that's not a good enough reason to put off marking a box on a driver's license renewal form or signing up online to help others.

"There is an inertia in New York," Rivera says. "We have the lowest number of people that donate blood, that go out to vote ... something needs to change."

 

April 3, 2014
Rye Daily Voice

Westchester Medical Center Encourages Organ Donations

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- April is Donate Life Month, and Westchester Medical Center is encouraging New York residents to register as an organ or tissue donor.

“One person who donates their organs (hearts, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestines) can save up to eight lives,” said Eileen Farrington, RN, director of transplant services at Westchester Medical Center. “A tissue donor (corneas, bone, skin, heart valves, tendons, veins, etc.) can improve 12 or more lives by restoring eyesight or helping to fight infections or preventing disability or the loss of mobility in burn patients.”

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network reports nearly 11,000 New York residents are on waiting lists for organ transplants. There are 8,775 people awaiting a kidney transplant, 1,400 awaiting a liver transplant and 350 people awaiting a heart transplant in New York, according to a news release by Westchester Medical Center.

Statistics show as many as 700 people die in New York each year while waiting for organ donations.

For more information about organ and tissue donation and to enroll online in the New York state Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, visit the New York Organ Donor Network at www.hatethewait.org. Additional resources can be found by visiting the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at www.hrsa.gov or the United Network for Organ Sharing at www.unos.org.

January 30, 2012

New York Daily News

Urging Hispanics to donate organs: Mom turns son’s tragedy into fight for gift of life 

Oscar Veliz died in hit-run accident, but mother is glad he 'lives on in others' and starts foundation to encourage would-be donors

BY ERICA PEARSON 

WHEN DOCTORS told Yolany Veliz her son was brain dead after a hit-and-run car accident, she wanted to take the 16-year-old off a ventilator and donate his organs.

She got unexpected grief from fellow immigrants in her Long Island neighborhood who believed myths about organ donation, like doctors selling body parts.

“So many people told me not to do it,” said Veliz, 38, who ignored the naysayers and let her son’s organs be harvested.

“But it really helps me to know that he lives on in others.”

Veliz, who is from Honduras and lives in Hempstead, is starting a foundation and website — www.oscarvelizfundation — to encourage other Latin American immigrants to consider organ donation.

Julia Rivera of the New York Organ Donor Network said Hispanic enrollment in the state registry of willing donors is low.

“There are still a lot of misconceptions and fears,” Rivera said. “We have a very high immigrant population, and unfortunately there’s some confusion there.”

Her group has worked to dispel the myths, educating potential donors that major religions support it and that doctors who declare a patient’s death have no stake in the transplant process.

Over the last decade, the number of Hispanic donors has risen. In 2011, 91 out of 264 donors in the metropolitan area were Hispanic. Hispanic families consented to donate 66% of the time, the highest rate of any group.

In Veliz’s case, six of Oscar’s organs went to patients on transplant waiting lists, including the 28-year-old son of a friend who needed a kidney.

“I think it was a miracle,” said Veliz, who has grown close to that recipient, Mike Cernam.

“It feels like she could consider me as one of her sons,” said Cernam, who often visits the pool hall Veliz owns in Hempstead.

Veliz does not know who got her son’s other kidney, lung, pancreas or liver but was touched to learn his heart went to a 17-year-old girl.

Police have still not caught the cowardly driver of the tan Toyota Camry that hit Oscar while he was on his bike on Clinton St. near Webb Ave. on Oct. 18.

Crime Stoppers and the family are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. The anonymous hotline is (800) 244-TIPS.

“Police are still working on this,” said family lawyer Mitchel Weiss, of Sakkas Cahn & Weiss LLP. “We’re hoping.”

epearson@nydailynews.com

ONLINE: Read this New York Daily News story

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December 30, 2012

New York Daily News  

Liver transplant is gift of life for Queens baby 

BY LISA L. COLANGELO

The best holiday present Samreen and Hussain Gadit have ever received did not come wrapped in glitzy ribbons and bows this year.

Their gift is the simple act of watching their infant son, Ariz, sleep in his own crib in their Hollis home.

Ariz, who turns three months old next week, is recovering after receiving a life-saving liver transplant at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

“It’s a miracle for us,” said Samreen Gadit, 31, as she held her youngest son. “He’s doing really well.”

Even the expert physicians who performed the surgery are amazed by little Ariz’s strength.

“Probably only one or two kids a year under a month of age get a liver transplant,” said Dr. Sandy Florman, director of the Recanati/Miller Transplantation Institute at Mt. Sinai Hospital, who performed the surgery with a team of doctors. “The stakes were so high.”

When Ariz was born on Oct. 3 to Samreen, a physician’s assistant, and Hussain, an engineer, the newborn seemed healthy.

“He looked fine, he looked great,” said Samreen Gadit, who gave birth at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.Life saving liver transplant for Queens baby is best holiday gift of all

Family hopes their story will spark organ donor drive

Her two older sons, six-year-old Ahmed and two-year-old Adam, were looking forward to meeting their little brother.

But a routine test showed Ariz had low blood sugar and a low blood platelet count.

“When I heard low platelet count so many things started going through my mind,” his mother recalled.

He took a test to rule out neonatal hemochromatosis - an extremely rare and often fatal liver disease.

The couple was crushed to find out their baby tested positive.

Florman said the disease is basically an “iron overload” problem and most children die from it before they are born.

Ariz did not respond to several treatments, leaving doctors no other option but to seek a liver transplant.

Performing delicate surgery on such a tiny patient was daunting enough. Doctors also needed to find a liver that matched.

Hussian Gadit hoped to be a donor for his son. But even the smallest piece of his liver would be too large for Ariz.

Florman and others were stunned when a donor liver, also from an infant, became available within days.

“He was on life support and had days to live,” said Florman, “This is one incredibly lucky kid.”

Helen Irving, president of the New York Organ Donor Network, said while an overwhelming number of New Yorkers support organ donation only 17% have registered through the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Right now, we are somewhat in a crisis for the need for organ donation,” Irving said.

The Gadits are hoping their story will urge people to think about signing up for organ donation. And they are thankful for the doctors and nurses who gave Ariz - who will be renamed Ali - lifesaving care.

“When you can help a baby have the rest of his life...this is the good stuff,” Florman said.

For more information about organ donation go to www.donatelifeny.org.

ONLINE: Read this New York Daily News story

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August 12, 2011

Astoria Times/Jackson Heights Times

Jamaica woman pushes for more organ donor applicants 

BY EVELYN CHENG

 

 

 

Thrisha White with her daughter Isabell.

 

National Minority Organ Donor Awareness Day Aug. 1 highlighted the great need for minority organ donors, especially from areas like Queens, which has a 60.3 percent non-white population.

"[There] continues to be a misconception of the need in the minority community," said CEO and President of the New York Organ Donor Network Elaine Berg. "This is an area where the best medicine cannot help people unless there is an altruistic human being — someone who would decide that it would be a good thing to save lives."

Jamaica resident Thrisha White, 29, came from Guyana with her mother and sister to Queens when she was 12 due to kidney damage from a medication overdose. When she was 15 she received her first kidney transplant from her mother. But eight years later, her body rejected the kidney and she was put on dialysis. Most kidney transplants last 17 years.

White then spent two years handling immigration issues that affected her insurance before she was placed on the organ transplant waiting list.

"The medication after the transplant is very expensive," she said. After six years on dialysis, White was able to obtain a second kidney July 11 from a 4-year-old boy who had died prematurely. "It's much better for people to get a transplant than dialysis.

The mortality on dialysis is 10 to 20 percent a year," said White's surgeon, Michael Goldstein, director of kidney and pancreas transplantation at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.

Despite having excellent doctors and hospitals, the New York Organ Donor Network reported her story during National Minority Organ Donor Awareness Day that only 16 percent of New Yorkers over 18 are registered organ donors, as opposed to 41 percent nationwide. As a result, the average New York City organ recipient must wait 49 months for a transplant, far longer than the rest of the nation for which the average waiting time is 29 months.

Of 111,757 people in the nation waiting for transplants, about 50 percent are minorities. In particular, black Americans have the greatest need for transplants, especially kidney transplants, accounting for about 34 percent of the waiting list. But fewer than 30 percent of donors are minorities, with only 13 percent black donors.

Berg said she hoped that more minorities, especially blacks, would register to donate their organs to reduce the disproportional representation.

"Don't screen yourself out. Everyone should consider themselves a potential organ donor," she said.

Registration can be completed when renewing a driver's license or online at the New York Organ Donor Network

website donatelifeny.org.

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June 25, 2011

Lap4Life Foundation

Lap4Life Raises  $12,000 for New York Organ Donor Network

The third annual Lap4Life Chadwick Lake Run/Walk was held today and once again was an overwhelming success. The New York Organ Donor Network is grateful to Maddalena Casabianca-Reade, organizer of the event. It raised funds for various causes incling $12,000 for our public education efforts. The Run/Walk, in memory of Maddalena's brother Angelo Casabianca, raises awareness about Desmoid tumors and organ transplants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lap4Life Run/Walk Photo: (L-R) Team members Gena Lee O'Brien, Tracy Shuta, G. Pinheiro, Gwen Borsenberger, Cathy Agnello, Madalena Casabianca-Reade (standing in front of Dr. Brian Reade); Gary Southard (Donor Network volunteer) and Stefan Segadlo (Donor Network public/professional education specialist).

 

On the Lap4Life Foundation website (www.lap4;ife.org), Maddalena wrote: "Ten years ago, this rare disease affected my brother. He was a 39 year old husband, father of three young children and local physician.

"Nine years of medical treatment and multiple surgeries with subsequent complications left him with few options. A final attempt to remove his large Desmoid Tumors required resection of his entire small intestine. He could no longer eat and was reliant on intravenous nutrition. Six months later, he underwent an intestinal transplant, a rare and risky procedure.

"Seven weeks after his transplant, he returned home to resume his life as a loving father and husband. Unfortunately, one week after being home, he succumbed to an illness that his weakened immune system could not ward off. Intestinal transplant currently offers the only hope of survival for patients with intestinal failure who are dependent on and often do not tolerate intravenous nutrition.

"While it is no longer considered experimental, intestinal transplantation continues to be very expensive and risky therapy with a need for life-long immunosuppression.

"Ongoing research has improved the outcomes significantly, to the point where patients like my brother can look forward to a long survival with a good quality of life.

"There is a desperate need for continued research both into the biology and treatment of Desmoid Tumors and into intestinal transplantation."

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Thursday, June 16th 2011

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Bronx Dad Celebrating First Father's Day Without Dialysis After Kidney Transplant

BY PATRICE O'SHAUGHNESSY

Jameak Lee has had a son for 12 years, but this Father's Day will be the first one that he feels like a full-time dad.

When his son, Justin, was born, Lee was getting sicker and sicker from kidney disease. Lee said he missed so much of his son's life, because requisite dialysis treatment every Monday, Wednesday and Friday after work kept him from attending Justin's Christmas plays and other school activities.

When Justin asked why his father's arm would pulsate really fast (his artery and vein were sewn together to facilitate dialysis), Lee told the boy he had a bionic arm.

"I never told him much, and my mother-in-law said, 'What if you go to the hospital someday and don't come back?' So I finally told him I was sick, and that I needed a transplant."

He got a new kidney four months ago through the Organ Donor Network, and now Lee, of Mount Hope, has "a new outlook on life, a second chance."

Lee, 37, a paraprofessional for the Board of Education who is on leave, spoke on Monday after he had just gotten a good report from Dr. Vaughn Whittaker, a transplant surgeon at St. Luke's Hospital who performed Lee's operation.

"There were so many challenges to getting him transplanted," said Whittaker, adding that a team of doctors, nurses and social workers were involved. "He learned to roll with it."

Lee had been undergoing dialysis for 10 years. He had been sick since 1995. His legs would swell up with fluid and his kidneys weren't filtering the toxins from his blood.

One time, Lee was down South visiting family, and got on a plane when Whittaker told him there was a kidney available, but it didn't work out. Another time, Lee was told there was a kidney, but he had an infection and the surgery wasn't possible at the time.Finally, last Valentine's Day, a "beautiful," "perfect," healthy kidney became available, the surgeon said.

"It was from a 27-year-old man, who had died a traumatic death, and his family was gracious enough to donate it," said Whittaker.

"Now Jameak is off dialysis and he's doing great, he looks great," said Whittaker."He wants to be strong for his kid. We think of our relationship with our transplant patients as a marriage and we never get divorced," Whittaker said. He will see Lee less and less, eventually only once a year.

"This is such an amazing story; they're all amazing stories and it's in our power to make these stories happen," said Elaine Berg, president of the New York Organ Donor Network.

Berg said the Empire State ranks 48th - 48th - out of the 50 states for number of living donors.So few people sign up in New York; I guess it's because New Yorkers are so busy, they have so much on their plate."

She urges everyone to at least sign the back of their driver's license, so that they can posthumously donate.

ONLINE: Read the New York Daily News story

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June 2, 2011

The Islip Bulletin

Bike tour a success

Four hundred and fifty people participated in the annual North Shore Bike Tour that was held on May 22. The 35-mile ride, which extended from Osprey Dominion Vineyard in Southold to Orient Point State Park and back, was headed by Islip Town resident John Acquaro, a heart transplant recipient, and raised more than $28,000 for the New York Organ Donor Network, triple the amount that was raised last year.

"More important than raising money was putting the idea of organ donation into people's heads," Acquaro said. For more information about the network, go to www.donatelifeny.org

 

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May 16, 2011

The New York Times

One Death Provides New Life for Many

BY DENISE O'GRADY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times

Mirtala Garcia laid a hand on Sebastiao Lourenco’s chest, then pressed her ear there for a moment.

“That’s my heart,” she said. “It’s still beating for me.”

Although she had just met Mr. Lourenco, she had known his heart for a long time. It had belonged to her husband, Julio, who died from a brain hemorrhage in March 2010, at the age of 38. Mrs. Garcia donated her husband’s organs, and the family’s loss led to a second chance for Mr. Lourenco, 57.

But he was not the only one. Seven or eight other people who urgently needed transplants also received organs from Mr. Garcia, an unusually large number. (The average from organ donors is about three.) Even more unusual, his family and a group of recipients met on Wednesday in a highly emotional gathering at the Manhattan headquarters of the New York Organ Donor Network, which coordinated the transplants.

The story of the Garcias and the people whose lives were saved by one man’s donated organs provides a close look at the charged world of transplants and organ donation, where people on the transplant list know they may die waiting, and the families of brain-dead patients are asked, at perhaps the most painful time in their lives, to look beyond their own grief and allow a loved one’s organs to be removed to help strangers.

There are nowhere near enough donor organs for all the people who need transplants. Nearly 111,000 are on waiting lists in the United States, but last year, only 28,663 transplants were performed, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, which oversees the transplant system nationwide. This year, 6,000 to 7,000 people are expected to die waiting.

Last week, Mrs. Garcia and her children, 5, 11 and 18, who all live in Stamford, Conn., met four of the recipients of her husband’s organs for the first time. A fifth recipient also attended, one of two people with renal failure, both members of the Garcias’ church, whom Mrs. Garcia chose to receive kidneys.

Mrs. Garcia addressed a room packed with recipients, families, doctors, nurses, her minister and his family and network employees. She spoke briefly through an interpreter. She said her husband had had a big heart and would be very proud “to give life after death.” No one would