Changing Lives Through Organ Donation
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News & Views

RECENT HAPPENINGS in Support of Organ Donation’s All-Important Mission

July 9th, 2015 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network


We Visit Lawmakers in Albany to Highlight Much-Needed Organ Donation Legislation

Even Inclement Weather Couldn’t Disrupt the Ryan Converse Memorial Golf Tournament

We Visit Lawmakers in Albany to Highlight Much-Needed Organ Donation Legislation

Thank you to our motivated volunteers who joined forces with the New York Alliance for Donation for Legislative Education Day in Albany on May 12, 2015 to highlight the need for important organ, eye and tissue donation legislation.

Donor families, transplant recipients, professionals from organ, eye and tissue agencies and other stakeholders took our message directly to their legislators.

Under consideration were two bills:

  • The first was an amendment to Lauren’s Law that would  REQUIRE individuals applying for driver’s licenses, renewals, or non-driver identification at the DMV to check “yes” or “skip this question” when filling out the section of the application regarding organ donation. The original bill, named after Lauren Shields from Rockland County who was 9 when she received a life-saving transplant, was passed in 2012, but did not invalidate an application that left the organ and tissue donation section blank. The amendment was passed in both houses.
  • The second bill was the Young Adult Enrollment Legislation that would have provided a way for 16 and 17-year-olds to enroll in the NYS Donate Life Registry by registering their intent to donate. Consent by their parents would be required until the individual reached eighteen years of age, when their “intent” would convert to full legal consent. The Senate passed the legislation and advanced the bill through to the last step in the Assembly process. However, it was not placed on the final Assembly Rules Committee agenda. The New York Alliance for Donation, along with FLDRN and other stakeholders, will continue to make every possible effort to get this legislation introduced again and passed during the legislative session next year.
Legislative Education Day 2015

Senator Rich Funke with (from left to right) Elizabeth Murray (Ad Council of Rochester), Joan Malley (Harbor House of Rochester), Aisha O’Mally (heart transplant recipient) and Emily Froome (daughter of a transplant recipient).

Legislative Education Day 2015

Assemblyman Bill Nojay with the same group in the photo above.

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Even Inclement Weather Couldn’t Disrupt the Ryan Converse Memorial Golf Tournament

Ryan Converse

Ryan Converse

Rain didn’t stop 150 golfers from hitting the links and having a great time at the 5th Annual Ryan Converse Memorial Golf Tournament on June 12, 2015 in Watertown.

Ryan passed away on July 2, 2010 at the age of 21 and gave the gift of life through organ donation. The memorial golf tournament is a way for family and friends who loved him to keep his memory alive, and it provides an opportunity to give back to the community, according to his parents, Joe and Vicki Converse of Watertown.

The popular event raised funds for Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, USO Fort Drum and the Watertown Urban Mission’s critical needs program.

A BIG thank you to Joe and Vicki Converse for their incredible kindness and continued generosity in supporting our organization and mission. It’s our honor and privilege to take part in this event.

5th Annual Ryan Converse Memorial Golf Tournament

The foursome from Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network poses for a picture with Joe and Vicki Converse. From left: Bill Sainsbury, Gary Guiste, Joe Converse, Sue Miller, Bob Gorman (United Way of Northern New York) and Vicki Converse.

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THANKS TO YOU, Donate Life Month’s Successful Programs and Events Boost NYS Donor Registry Enrollments

May 25th, 2015 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network thanks all who participated in our 2015 National Donate Life Month events in April!

From donor registry drives and sporting events, to our “Show, Share, Win!” photo contest celebrating National Blue & Green Day, our volunteers, friends and hospital partners went above and beyond to help us raise awareness for organ donation and register a considerable number of New Yorkers in the state’s Donate Life Registry.

Donate Life Blue and Green Day

“Show, Share, Win!”…and They’re Winners

Kudos to all who entered our “Show, Share, Win!” contest to celebrate National Donate Life Blue & Green Day.

Pictured here are the winners of the “Best Dressed in Blue & Green” category from Upstate University Hospital Pharmacy!

See all the photos and winners by visiting our Facebook Page.


Haircuts and Heroes

 Trendsetting Haircuts for Donor Registry Heroes

The Shop, a trendy barbershop located in Syracuse, held a donor registry drive called “Haircuts & Heroes” – offering discounts to registered organ donors all through the month of April.

Special thanks to Donna Ferris at St. Joseph’s Hospital, for helping to coordinate this “heroic” event!

(Photo of Ryan Sainsbury, courtesy of Bill Sainsbury, FLDRN’s Manager of Hospital Development and Family Services.)




Amerks donor registry tableAmerks clapperscropped SQUARE



On a Special Night, Rochester Amerks  Celebrate Life-Giving Organ Donation




We celebrated Donate Life Night with the Rochester Amerks on April 10. And we couldn’t have done it without the help of our many wonderful volunteers, including those from Strong Memorial Hospital, Harbor House and the Ad Council of Rochester.

Special thanks go to:

Amerks Holly Campbell

(Photos courtesy of the Rochester Americans)


Michelle Coville

A Syracuse Donate Life Month Celebration
Inspires and Delights

Upstate University Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital celebrated Donate Life Month together on April 15 with a variety of events including “A Taste of CNY” that offered delicious baked goods and a silent auction. The annual event raises awareness and funds for other organ donation activities throughout the year.

Kathy Baker (pictured above) after speaking at the press conference kicking off the day’s activities, is holding a remembrance of her daughter, Michelle Coville, who passed life on through the gift of organ donation in May 2014.

“Her precious heart is still beating,” Kathy said. “She is still inspiring people.”

(Photo courtesy of Upstate University Hospital)


Cheryl Dinolfo, Monroel County Clerk, celebrates Donate Life Month

Monroe’s County Clerk Heads Up “Blue and Green Day” Activities at the Greece, NY DMV

Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo (in the photo above, 4th from right) celebrated Donate Life Month and National Blue and Green Day on April 17 with Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network at the Department of Motor Vehicles branch in Greece, NY.

“Our DMV offices see an average of 500,000 visitors each year, and we are proud to help make them aware of the life-saving decision they can make by joining the registry,” said Dinolfo.

Several transplant recipients and donor family members joined Dinolfo at the podium, including two recipients who just happened to be visiting the DMV that morning! Also participating in the event were the Rochester Eye and Tissue Bank, the Kidney Foundation of Rochester and the Ad Council of Rochester.


Destiny USA MallA Donor Registry Drive at Destiny USA Mall

That’s our Donate Life tent at the Destiny USA Mall in Syracuse on April 25! Thanks to Kate Mitchell (Upstate University Hospital), Barbara Spicer (St. Joseph’s Hospital) and Donna Dunn (donor mom) for volunteering to coordinate this donor registry drive!




Enthusiastic SupportBusinesses along Syracuse University Hill
From Syracuse

We had tons of fun partnering with Central New York Eye and Tissue Bank, and staff from Upstate University Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital, hanging posters and flags to celebrate ‪‎Donate Life Month‬.

Businesses all up and down Marshall Street on the Syracuse University Hill and the city’s north side generously displayed our Pass Life On posters.‬‬‬‬Marshall Street on the Syracuse University hill





MAY 19, 2015 IS AN IMPORTANT MILESTONE: United Network for Organ Sharing Has Coordinated 500,000 Organ Transplants

May 19th, 2015 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network




As of May 19, 2015, the national transplant allocation system developed by United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) has coordinated 500,000 organ transplants from deceased donors in the United States since its beginning in October 1987. In a news release issued today, UNOS said that more than 250,000 recipients of these transplants are estimated to be surviving.

“This is a significant accomplishment in healthcare, made possible by the generosity of organ donors and their loved ones and the cooperative work of dedicated transplant professionals nationwide,” said OPTN/UNOS President Carl Berg, M.D. UNOS serves as the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) under contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Division of Transplantation.

“The national system has coordinated many transplants that otherwise wouldn’t have happened.” – Carl Berg, M.D., UNOS/OPTN President

Mr. Berg said, “It is also an opportunity to reflect on the work yet to be done. More than 123,000 people await an opportunity for a life-giving transplant today. We can meet their needs with the support of everyone who commits to organ donation.”

In response to the attainment of the 500,000 landmark, Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network Executive Director, Rob Kochik, said: “This is something for FLDRN to celebrate as we were an important part of helping to save many of these lives and supporting the generous donor families.”


500,000 transplant landmark in US



WXXI VIDEO: Where Are New York’s Organ Donors?

May 4th, 2015 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network


In an interview with Rob Kochik, Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network’s executive director, and other guests, WXXI-TV’s Hélène Biandudi Hofer explored the issues of organ donation and how to join the registry on Need to Know. The program aired at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 30 It was rebroadcast on Sunday, May 3 at 11:30 a.m.

In addition to Mr. Kochik, the guests during the segment were Scott Semans (whose sister, Heather, passed life on through the gift of organ donation), Jeremy Shaw (a liver recipient) and Todd Butler, the executive director of the Ad Council or Rochester.

Mr. Kochik said FLDRN was also pleased to have Scott and Heather’s parents, Mike and Jan Semans, looking on during the taping of the program.



Topics raised during the interview were how organ donation saves lives; the shortage of donors in New York State, and how FLDRN has re-framed the message of donation by focusing on the importance of living life to the fullest and passing life on after joining the registry.

At one point during the discussion, Mr. Kochik emphasized how important it is to discuss with family one’s decision to save lives through organ donation. He said he had been impressed with a quote he’d heard recently: “Be brave enough to have a conversation that matters.”

See the video on WXXI’s website.


Donate Life Month Results in Heightened Media Reports About Organ Donation

April 17th, 2015 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network


West New York Man, Who Received His New Heart at UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital, Meets the Family of 22-Year-old Donor

The donor and transplant families walked together on April 12 in Rochester River Run/Walk 5K, sponsored by the Friends of Strong Memorial Hospital to benefit organ transplant patients.  [Photo:]

APRIL 12: The Brown and Wieland families walked together in the Rochester River Run/Walk 5K, sponsored by the Friends of Strong Memorial Hospital to benefit organ transplant patients. [Photo:]

Claude Brown, who lives in the Lockport-area, received a new heart in 2010 at UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital. Brown’s donor was 22-year-old Ricky Wieland, an Ohio National Guardsman studying to be a mechanic.

On April 11, during a National Donate Life Month event filled with emotion, Brown and his wife Molly met Ricky’s parents, Richard and Debbie Wieland. The families revealed their identities last November, which led to the meeting.

SEE THE VIDEO AND READ MORE: WGRZ-TV/Democrat & Chronicle, April 12, 2015

READ MORE:, April 17, 2015


VIDEO – WNYF-TV: Samaritan Medical Center Partners With FLDRN to Push for Organ Donors

April 15, 2015: Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown, NY, is working with health partner Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network during National Donate Life Month to decrease the number of people who die or whose health deteriorates because they are waiting for an organ transplant. Family members of loved ones who donated their organs shared their stories Wednesday.


National_DonateLife_Month logo genericVIDEO – WNYF-TV: Jamie Lawrence, Daughter of a Tissue and Eye Donor, Explains the Importance of Family Discussions About Donation

April 15, 2015: Rob Kochik, executive director of the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, and Jamie Lawrence, whose father was an eye and tissue donor, are interviewed during National Donate Life Month on 7 News This Morning. The key message: It’s important to discuss your wishes to be a donor with loved ones ahead of time. 


LISTEN! – WAER-FM: To Raise Organ Donation Awareness, Upstate University Hospital Shares Stories About Organ Donation and Transplantation

April 15, 2015: Upstate University Hospital is celebrating Donate Life Month and is encouraging individuals to join the organ donation registry. To illustrate the importance of donation, the Syracuse public radio station features the stories of various individuals: Kidney recipient James Rev; Deborah Corapi, who received a kidney from a friend, and Kathy Baker, whose daughter Michelle Coville became an organ donor.


VIDEO – TWC-TV NEWS, JAMESTOWN, NY: Upstate University Hospital Urges Increased Organ Donor Registry Enrollment

April 15, 2015: As part of Donate Life Month, Upstate Medical University is encouraging everyone to sign up for the donor registry. They say New York is home to ten percent of Americans waiting for a transplant, but only three percent of all registered donors.

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