Changing Lives Through Organ Donation
youtube facebook enews signup

News & Views

ORGAN TRANSPLANTS: For Transplant Surgeons, Timing Is Everything

November 9th, 2015 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network


Like organ transplant centers around the United States, UR Medicine’s dedicated organ transplant team at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY, is constantly coordinating organ donation and transplants with other hospitals, often in other cities.

UR Medicine’s chief of solid organ transplant surgery, Dr. Mark Orloff, says, “There’s a lot of stress and timing involved.” And for transplant surgeons, there is also joy in being able to pass on life.

“You’re really just the conduit of this great transformational process, but it really starts with the incredible gift of the donation,” says Dr. Orloff, who specializes in liver and kidney transplants.

In this News 8/WROC-TV report, Adam Chodak finds out what happens behind the scenes prior to an organ transplant.

RELATED LINK: See the video on News8/WROC’s website.

How Easy Is it to Join New York’s Organ Donor Registry? News 8 Finds Out.

November 6th, 2015 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

Did you know 25 percent of New York State residents are registered organ donors compared with 50 percent nationwide?

Although surveys show 83 percent of New Yorkers support organ donation, our state ranks 50th out of 50 in the nation in percent of residents who are registered organ donors.

With this in mind, News 8/WROC’s Rachel Barnhart conducts an experiment with three Rochester residents to see how easy or difficult it is to add their names to the New York State Donate Life Registry.

This report aired last night.

Help Share the Message of Hope During National Donor Sabbath, Nov. 13 – 15, 2015

October 30th, 2015 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network (FLDRN), the organization that coordinates organ, eye and tissue donation in New York State’s Finger Lakes, Central and North Country regions, is urging residents in general, and the faith community in particular, to join in recognizing National Donor Sabbath from Friday, November 13 through to Sunday, November 15.

For more than 15 years, National Donor Sabbath has brought together members of faith communities and the donation and transplant communities across the country to bring attention to the precious gift of organ donation. These three special days set aside each year is a time for people of all faiths and denominations to honor those who have given the lifesaving and healing gift of organ, eye and tissue donation.

For many, faith plays an important role in the decision to register as a donor. All major religions support organ donation and believe it to be the ultimate act of kindness and generosity. With over 122,000 individuals on the national transplant waiting list, registering as a donor today can provide hope to those desperately waiting for the gift of life and potentially save lives in the future.

“We can be a symbol of hope for those who are waiting.”

Rob Kochik, the FLDRN executive director, said, “To make National Donor Sabbath a success, we ask you to help share this information with your faith community and its leaders to honor organ, eye and tissue donors and increase awareness and understanding of donation.

“We thank everyone who supports our life-saving efforts during the Donor Sabbath weekend. Together, we can be a symbol of hope for those who are waiting.”

Here’s What You Can Do for National Donor Sabbath:

1. Inform your religious leader that National Donor Sabbath takes place Friday, Nov. 13 through Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. You can share by email a variety of materials and ideas: Sermons, music, bulletins and other resources. They may also show FLDRN’s short video titled “The Greatest Person Never Known” that speaks to the power of passing life on through the gift of organ donation. (Internet access is required to show this video from the website:

2. Share your story of donation or transplantation with your congregation. If you are a donor family member, living donor, transplant recipient or are waiting for a transplant, offer to speak to your congregation about your experience. Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network can also provide you with free materials to hand out. Contact FLDRN from the information below.

3. Ask to hold a candle-lighting or another appropriate ceremony to honor those who have donated the gift of life, including both living and deceased donors.

4. Enroll in the New York State Donate Life RegistryTell your loved ones that you have made the decision to donate life. And encourage your relatives, friends and colleagues to fulfill the true meaning and spirit of Donor Sabbath by choosing to pass life on and enrolling in the donor registry.

For more information or to arrange for a speaker to attend a service or small group discussion in the future, email Amy James, FLDRN’s Community Education Manager, or call her at 585-272-4930.

IN THE MEDIA: Local TV Meteorologist Scott Hetsko’s Life-Saving Heart Transplant

October 29th, 2015 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

Scott Hetsko - WROC-TVOn September 16 this year, Scott Hetsko received a heart transplant that saved his life. The Rochester resident is married and the father of three.

You know Scott as the chief meteorologist for CBS affiliate, News 8/WROC.

Scott’s heart transplant has generated media coverage. That’s not surprising considering that the likable TV personality has struggled with heart disease since March 2009.

NOW, SCOTT CAN WALK 20 STEPS: For the first time since he received a new heart, Scott Hetsko sits down with Maureen McGuire to talk about his recovery, and his hope for the future. The interview aired on News 8 on October 29, 2015.

After waiting six years for a new heart, Scott can walk the 20 steps to his backyard weather station without getting short of breath.

Scott was hospitalized for 95 days at Strong Memorial Hospital waiting for a donor who could match his blood type. He feels very grateful to his anonymous donor, considering that other patients have been in the hospital for over a year, still waiting for the right match.

He hopes to return to his weather duties at WROC sometime in January 2016.




Democrat & Chronicle: Scott Hetsko talks about his new heart

VIDEO! News 8 WROC Rochester Facebook: New York’s donor registry has room to grow

LISTEN! WXXI: Scott Hetsko: “My duty is to take care of my heart and get donor numbers up so others can be saved

RELATED LINK: More about Scott Hetsko from WROC website


Governor Cuomo Signs Lauren’s Law Amendment Legislation into Law

October 27th, 2015 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network


NYS Driver's License - Organ Donation

As a result of yesterday’s amendment, New Yorkers are now required by law to check off one of two options about the organ donation registry when filling out a driver’s license application form in the state.

With approximately 45 minutes to spare before the deadline expired yesterday, New York Governor  Andrews Cuomo signed the Lauren’s Law Amendment legislation (S.5101/A.7431) into law (Chapter 405).

As a result, New Yorkers are now required by law to answer this question on the state’s driver’s license application: “Would you like to be added to the Donate Life Registry?” Either “yes” or “skip this question”  must be checked, or the transaction cannot be completed.

Aisha Tator, executive director of the New York Alliance for Donation (NYAD), said on behalf of the donation community, “NYAD applauds the Governor and State Legislature for taking decisive steps to achieve full implementation of Lauren’s Law that will ensure New Yorkers consider enrollment in the state’s organ and tissue donor registry.”

Lauren Shields

Lauren Shields, after whom Lauren’s Law was named.

In a media release, Ms. Tator said, “In 2012, Lauren’s Law, named after a young girl, Lauren Shields, whose life was saved by a heart transplant, was created with the intent to require driver license applicants to actively choose whether they would like to become a registered organ, eye and tissue donor on the New York State Donate Life Registry.

“However, because the statute did not invalidate an application that left the organ and tissue donation section blank, it has not resulted in as much of a change in the administrative processes at the Department of Motor Vehicles as had been hoped.

“The legislation Governor Cuomo signed into law yesterday would fulfill the intent of Lauren’s Law and prevent any driver license, non-driver identification, or renewal, application from being processed without the organ and tissue donation section being completed—thus ensuring New Yorkers are offered the opportunity to give the gift of life.”

The waiting list numbers change day to day and hour by hour. What doesn’t change is the desperate need to save lives.

The Goal:  More People Joining New York’s Donor Registry

The Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network’s executive director, Rob Kochik, said he also welcomes the news. “As a result of this important amendment, we hope many more New Yorkers will join the organ donor registry. Around 650 people in our region are waiting for organ transplants. For example, more than 500 people need a kidney transplant, around 30 people need a new heart, and around 60 of them are on the waiting list for a liver.

“The waiting list numbers change day to day and hour by hour. What doesn’t change is the desperate need to save lives so that our fellow New Yorkers can continue to enjoy quality time with their loved ones and friends for many years to come.”

RELATED LINK: Read the New York Alliance for Donation news release

  • © Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, Corporate Woods of Brighton, Building 30, Suite 220, Rochester, NY 14623 (800) 810-5494