Changing Lives Through Organ Donation
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ROSE PARADE 2015: Three-Way Connection of Living Kidney Donor, Deceased Donor and Organ Transplant Recipient to Be Honored

November 14th, 2014 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

Donate Life float rendering for Rose Parade on January 1, 2015.

A rendering of the 2015 Donate Life Rose Parade float. Its theme is ‘The Never-Ending Story.’

The theme of the 126th Rose Parade that will take place in Pasadena, California on January 1, 2015, is “Inspiring Stories.” Tying in with that uplifting concept, the Donate Life float’s theme to promote organ, eye and tissue donation, is “The Never-Ending Story.”

So it’s especially fitting that Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network and University of Rochester Medical Center/Strong Memorial Hospital will sponsor and honor three individuals from Rochester who were part of an awe-inspiring, hard to believe, three-way connection involving organ donation.

Laurie LoMonaco

Laurie LoMonaco

Living kidney donor Laurie LoMonaco will walk alongside the Donate Life float during the parade. She will be one of twelve living donors doing so on New Year’s Day in front of a worldwide television audience of millions.

Paul Guyette

Paul Guyette

Paul Guyette, a deceased organ donor, will be honored at the parade with a memorial floragraph — a portrait created with floral materials — that will adorn the float. Paul’s wife, Mary, who lovingly helped make the floragraph, will be in Pasadena for the parade. A total of 72 floragraphs will be displayed on the float.

Gates Orlando

Gates Orlando

Heart transplant recipient Gaetano “Gates” Orlando, a former Buffalo Sabres and Rochester Amerks hockey player and hockey coach, will join 29 other riders on the Donate Life float. Paul Guyette was his donor. (Read further to find out how this happened.) Gates is currently a talent scout for the New Jersey Devils.


PERSONAL STORIES: How did this three-way connection occur?

The manner in which these three people became inextricably linked could be the basis for a compelling novel — but, incredibly, the series of events that bind them together happened this way:

  • CONNECTION #1: On January 23, 2013, Laurie LoMonaco donates a kidney to a relative stranger, someone she’d met a decade earlier who was now very ill and on dialysis. Laurie had been motivated to do so three years earlier after seeing a story on television about a man who decided to be an altruistic kidney donor. After researching living donation for two years, she initiated the process in January 2012. Laurie’s best friends, Mary and Paul Guyette, were aware of how she had donated a kidney. Paul stated how proud he was of Laurie for her decision.
  • CONNECTION #2: Just ten days after Laurie donated a kidney, Paul Guyette suffers a severe intracranial brain hemorrhage in the middle of the night and he subsequently becomes an organ donor at the age of 42. When Paul’s wife, Mary, and her family were approached at Strong Memorial Hospital by FLDRN staff requesting they consider organ donation, she remembered how Laurie’s kidney donation had impressed Paul. She also discovered Paul had spoken the previous day with his father about Laurie’s story and this helped to confirm the decision. In addition to his heart, Paul donated his liver, kidneys, saphenous veins and corneas. Just as Paul was in awe of Laurie, now Mary and daughters Jenna and Emma can look up to their own hero.
  • CONNECTION #3: Gates Orlando receives his new heart from Paul on February 5, 2013. A diagnosis of sarcoidosis, a rare form of heart failure, in early 2011, had threatened the life of this Rochester Amerks Hall of Famer.
    Donor wife Mary Guyette is joined by her daughters and Gates Orlando, their loved one’s heart recipient, to participate in the ceremonial puck drop before the game at Donate Life Night with the Amerks.

    APRIL 2014: Donor wife Mary Guyette was joined by her daughters and Gates Orlando, their loved one’s heart recipient, to participate in the ceremonial puck drop before the game at Donate Life Night with the Amerks.

    Gates had been living at Strong Memorial Hospital for the previous ten months with an artificial heart waiting for a transplant. Now, after all this time, his donor was at the same hospital. Paul’s family members were sure it would have pleased him that his recipient was a NHL legend.

AN INSPIRATION TO OTHERS: “Consider becoming an organ donor.”

To promote organ donation, Paul’s wife, Mary, has joined Gates at events to tell their shared story. “I am blessed and grateful to have been given the Gift of Life,” says Gates. “Please consider becoming an organ donor.”

Rob Kochik, executive director

Rob Kochik

Rob Kochik, executive director of the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, says: “This unbelievable organ donation and transplantation three-way connection will hopefully inspire others to sign up as organ donors. Laurie, Paul and Mary, and Gates, represent all that is positive about donation. It shows that living donors can bring hope to others; deceased donors can save lives and bring comfort to their loved ones; and recipients complete the circle of life, the never-ending story.”



DONATE LIFE FLOAT — Butterflies Symbolize Donor’s Power

2015 Rose Parade Donate Life ThemeThe 2015 Donate Life Rose Parade Float, coordinated by OneLegacy, the nonprofit organ recovery agency that serves the Los Angeles metropolitan area, will feature 60 beautiful butterflies emerging from an open book, representing the number of lives transformed by a single deceased donor.

As part of “The Never-Ending Story” theme, the butterflies will ascend above floragraph portraits of deceased donors whose legacies are nurtured by their loved ones.

The Rose Parade will take place Thursday, January 1, 2015, at 11 a.m. (EST).

CBS-TV — Couple Mends Each Other’s Heart

October 19th, 2014 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

After they got their new hearts at University of Rochester Medical Center/Strong Memorial Hospital, Esther FitzRandolph and Danny Pszczolkowski both suffered from complications and depression.

“I didn’t want to do anything,” said FitzRandolph. “I would just sit around.”

“I kind of refused the exercises and all that, at times,” said Pszczolkowski.

But a few months ago, both these patients started improving — dramatically.

What accelerated their recoveries? Romance!


The video aired on the CBS Evening News on Friday, October 17 and “CBS Sunday Morning” on October 19, 2014.

RELATED LINK – GIFT OF LIFE STORIES: In Rochester, Heart Transplants Save Lives, Lead to ROMANCE!

Pope Francis: ‘Organ donation is a testimony of love for our neighbor’

October 11th, 2014 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

The following story was reported by Independent Catholic News (ICN). Read the complete story that appeared on ICN’s website.

Pope Francis described the act of organ donation as ‘a testimony of love for our neighbor’ when he met with the Transplantation Committee for the Council of Europe (CD-P-TO) who gathered in Rome on Thursday (October 9). The Pontiff’s comments came on the same day as the Catholic Church in England and Wales agreed to join the “fleshandblood” campaign as a national associate.

shutterstock_170215904 Pope Francis 11-17-14The fleshandblood campaign [in England] is the first national partnership of its kind between the National Health Service (NHS) and UK Churches, aiming to encourage church congregations to see blood and organ donation as a part of their community participation.

“A Culture of Life”

The Most Rev. Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, said: “The Catholic Church is clear that, in itself it is a good and meritorious thing freely to donate our organs after we are dead. Even while we are alive, actions such as giving blood can be a powerful expression of human solidarity and of Christian charity. Such actions can help build a culture of life, a culture in which life is cherished. For this reason I welcome initiatives such as ‘fleshandblood’ which encourages people to think of serving others in this way, as a form of Christian charity.”

The Vatican plays host to European Organ Donation Day (EODD) today with news of the Pope’s comments being welcomed by those involved. Marta Lopez Fraga, the Secretary of the European Committee on Organ Donation said: “The Pope is a charismatic figure and it is very important that he has given a clear and strong message in favour of donation to all the different religious communities.”

Following the meeting in Rome, the CD-P-TO reported that it was also the first instance of a Pope expressing a scientific point of view with regard to organ donation and specifically the determination of brain death.

Pope Calls for More People to Donate Organs, But Is Opposed to Commercial Use: Rome Mayor

According to a news report from the French news agency L’Agence France-Presse (AFP) in September 2014, Pope Francis made an earlier statement in support of organ donation:

ROME, September 20, 2014 — Pope Francis has called for more people to donate their organs in a bid to stop illegal trafficking, but spoke out against the legalisation of the organ market, Rome’s mayor said today.

“The pope authorised me to say that in his view organ donation through generosity must be encouraged, but the commercial use of organs is immoral,” mayor Ignazio Marino said, after meeting with Francis on Friday.

“We need to explain that donating organs is a gesture of love. Each of us, for example, has two kidneys, and giving one of them to a relative or a person we love is a beautiful gesture. Entering into the spiral of trade and sales is a crime,” the pope said, according to Marino.

The meeting with Marino and a world delegation of transplant experts came as the United States debates whether or not to introduce financial incentives for organ donation, which could include reimbursing costs of travel for donors and lost wages, as well as providing long term health insurance.

RELATED LINK FROM FOX NEWS: Pope Francis has one lung: What organs can you live without? 

Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network Announces Changes in Management Team

September 30th, 2014 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

Rob Kochik, the executive director of Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, (FLDRN), today announced two recent changes to Finger FLDRN’s management team.

Rebecca Milczarski has been named Clinical Director and will be responsible for all clinical operations of the organization.

Bill Sainsbury, whose service with FLDRN spans over 10 years, has been appointed Manager of Hospital and Family Services.

Mr. Kochik said, “This restructuring comes after Rich Padula recently accepted a position as Director of Transplant Services at Fletcher Allen Hospital in Vermont. Rich worked at FLDRN for the last 20 years in various roles, most recently as Operations Director.”

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National Donor Sabbath 2014: Finger Lakes Religious Leaders and Congregants Asked to Promote Organ Donation

September 26th, 2014 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network (FLDRN) has called upon religious leaders and congregants to promote National Donor Sabbath during the weekend of November 14-16, 2014.

In an email message to supporters of organ donation and hospitals, FLDRN executive director Rob Kochik wrote: “All major religions approve of organ, eye and tissue donation as a sacred act of love. During National Donor Sabbath, leaders from many religions, families of donors, transplant recipients and living donors participate in programs to promote life-saving donation.”

Illustrated buttons reflecting symbols of religionsQuoting Maya Angelou, who passed away earlier this year, Mr. Kochik referred to her belief “that each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory.”

Building on Ms. Angelou’s values system, Mr. Kochik stated: “It is my earnest hope that as Donor Sabbath draws near, we can all be inspired by Maya’s unbending belief that human beings, in the image of our God–no matter which religion we follow–can attain noble acts, ‘trailing wisps of glory.'”

Read the rest of this entry »

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