Organ Donor List is Weakest in New York

By Erin Billups ny1
Published on July 21, 2015

New York trails behind the nation in the number of people signed up to donate their organs in the event of an untimely death. Health Reporter Erin Billups takes a look at how that impacts those waiting for transplants and filed the following report.

Lauren Young’s heart was thicker than normal, so it had a tougher time pumping blood through her body.

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“I could never really run the mile in school or things like that, my stamina was always limited,” she recalls.

At age 13 she went into heart failure and had a surgery to reduce the thickness of her heart. Life was pretty normal, until nine months after her marriage to Ward, when her heart failed again.

“It was just very, very bad and so that immediately led into talk of transplant. Really what struck me the most was the urgency of it, they basically were saying you needed it like yesterday,” says Young.

The news even more sobering because it came just a few years after Young’s mother had died of the same condition.

To make matters worse, doctors told her even though she was at the top of the list for a heart in New York her odds of getting one in time would be better in California.

“Not only do you have to have a transplant – you can’t even have it at your, the hospital that, you know, kind of closest to you. And Columbia is actually a fantastic heart transplant program…given the lack of supply, it just takes a long time to get a heart,” says Young.

New York is actually the worst place to be if you need a transplant.

“We are currently 50 out of 50 states. We only have 24 percent of the population that’s eligible signed up,” says Julia Rivera, a spokeswoman for Live On NY.

Young and her husband took the risky trip and flew to Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. Miraculously, the day after settling in, she was told she had a heart.

“It gives you chills. I was so fortunate to be able to go there and you know have that happen so smoothly,” she says.

Now with more energy than she’s ever really had Young has been cycling. For the past two years since her transplant she’s held spin fundraisers to bring awareness to the need for donors.

“I’m carrying on this person’s life and spirit and living for her in part. So that’s how I hope people think about it,” says Young.

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Tuesday, July 21

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