Changing Lives Through Organ Donation
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News & Views

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!

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.'”

Mr. Kochik pointed out that the need for organ donors has never been greater. “Eighteen people die each day in America waiting for a life-saving transplant,” he said.

“Approximately 1,500 New Yorkers have been on the waiting list for five years or longer. Last year, 381 New Yorkers became too sick to remain on the waiting list, and 539 died waiting. Statewide, 22 percent of people in New York State are registered organ donors. Though that number is higher in FLDRN’s service area –30 percent of residents are registered organ donors — the region still trails the national average of 42 percent registered.”


Religious leaders can share the importance of organ donation, as well as eye and tissue donation, with their congregants. FLDRN suggests various ways this can take place:

  • Address the subject in sermons, prayers and homilies
  • Share information through bulletins and newsletters and web communications
  • Hold a prayer breakfast with speakers including local patients and families of donors
  • During funeral services, and with the family’s approval, acknowledge the gifts of donation
  • Promote the importance of enrolling in the New York State Donate Life Registry


  • Donate Life graphicCongregants should inform their religious leader that National Donor Sabbath takes place the weekend of November 14-16 and request that he or she devotes a sermon to organ donation.
  • Worshipers at houses of worship can organize Donor Sabbath Celebrations. They can arrange for a transplant recipient, donor family member or living donor to speak, and distribute handouts. FLDRN can connect them with speakers and provide free handouts.
  • All New Yorkers age 18 and over should enroll in the New York State Donate Life Registry. Once they have done so, it is imperative they follow up by having conversations with their families, informing them they have registered to give the Gift of Life and to encourage them to follow in their footsteps.

To arrange a Donor Sabbath program at your house of worship during the weekend of Nov. 14-16, 2014: Email Amy James, Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network’s Community Education Manager or call her at 585-272-4930.


Religion and Organ Donation

More about National Donor Sabbath – and Download Resources Including Sermon Ideas and Newsletter Samples


Hispanic Heritage Month: Importance of Enrolling in New York Organ Donor Registry

September 10th, 2014 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

Hispanic Heritage Month logoHispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually in the United States from September 15 through October 15.

As the nation celebrates Hispanic heritage, culture and accomplishments, Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network (FLDRN) urges Hispanics to celebrate life by promoting organ donation during this special time of the year.

FLDRN’s executive director, Rob Kochik, says: “Hispanics’ high standards when it comes to family and faith, and their focus on the vibrancy of life, can be made even more meaningful during Hispanic Heritage Month if members of this community set out to promote the life-saving nature of organ and tissue donation.”

Of the more than 10,500 people waiting for organ transplants in New York State, over 2,000 or roughly 20 percent are Hispanic:

  • More than 1,600 Hispanics need kidneys in New York State.
  • Over 300 Hispanics need livers.
  • Hispanics are also waiting in New York State for hearts, lungs and pancreas. Some of them need a double transplant: a kidney and pancreas.

New Yorkers can enroll in the Donate Life Registry in various ways, including online and at the New York DMV.


For more information about how you can participate in Hispanic Heritage Month: Contact Amy James. Email Amy or call her on 585-272-4930.

WETM 18/ A Drive to Donate — NASCAR’s Joey Gase Honors Donor Family

August 9th, 2014 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network

NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Joey Gase honored the Campbell family today as his special guests at Watkins Glen International, Nexstar Broadcasting’s WETM 18 reports. The story appears on the website.

The website states: “Gase has an unlikely link to the Campbell family who live in Horseheads. They are connected by organ donation.

“The Campbells lost their two month old son, Jake in 2007 when he stopped breathing. They made the decision to donate his organs and help other families avoid the pain they were experiencing. This choice led to sight restoration for two, and saving the life of one baby boy with a heart transplant.

“Gase lost his mother, Mary Jo unexpectedly when he was just 18 years old, and he and his family made the decision to donate her organs to those in need.”


NASCAR driver Joey Gase supports organ donation

To follow Joey Gase’s journey to spread organ donor awareness, click here.

PEOPLE Magazine: Martha Stewart’s Sister Laura Plimpton Dies, Donates Organs

August 6th, 2014 by Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network



Martha Stewart (left) and Laura Plimpton STEPHEN CHERNIN/GETTY


Martha Stewart’s younger sister, Laura Plimpton, died Tuesday [yesterday] from a brain aneurysm at her home in the Weston area of Connecticut, PEOPLE has confirmed. She was 59. Ms. Plimpton had left written instructions stating she wished to be an organ donor upon her death.

“My youngest sister, and the youngest of the six Kostyra siblings, Laura Kostyra Plimpton, passed away today in Norwalk Hospital,” Stewart, 73, announced in a tribute posted to her website.

“We are so sad, but also happy that Laura had the foresight to donate so many healthy organs to needy people,” Stewart writes.


  • Register as a Donor Today!

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  • Facts About Organ Donation

    • If you are sick or injured and admitted to a hospital, the FIRST PRIORITY for emergency physicians and nurses is to SAVE YOUR LIFE, regardless of whether or not you have registered to be an organ donor.
    • Everyone waiting for a transplant is treated fairly and with respect. Objective medical criteria determine how donated organs are allocated to patients on the transplant waiting list.
    • All major religions approve of organ donation.
    • Check out "10 Facts About Organ Donation"
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