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Friday, April 6, 2018

Impacted by Organ Donation, Recipients, Donors and Families Join WMCHealth Hospitals to Celebrate Donate Life Month

Recognition and Awareness the Themes for On-Campus Events Reuniting Families and Staff

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Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), home to the Hudson Valley region’s only transplant center, in Valhalla, will welcome former patients and families impacted by the gift of organ donation back to network campuses in April to observe national Donate Life Month and raise awareness about the critical need for organ donation locally and nationally.

Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of WMCHealth performs kidney, liver, heart, pancreas, bone marrow and corneal transplants. The program has transplanted more than 2,300 kidneys and more than 770 livers in its history. More than 220 lifesavings heart transplants have been performed at Westchester Medical Center. Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of WMCHealth, has pediatric kidney, bone marrow and corneal transplant programs.

“WMCHealth is committed to saving the lives of people in the Hudson Valley and beyond facing life-threatening conditions that can only be treated with an organ transplant,” said Thomas Diflo, MD, Chief of Intra-Abdominal Organ Transplantation at Westchester Medical Center. “At any given time, there are more than 120,000 people nationwide waiting for an organ, and in New York State alone – the state with the lowest organ donation rate nationally – a person dies every 18 hours while waiting for a transplant.* Organ donation offers a second chance to a patient suffering from a variety of life-threatening conditions and one person’s donation has the potential to save as many as eight lives.”

In observance of Donate Life Month, Westchester Medical Center and MidHudson Regional Hospital, a member of WMCHealth, are hosting events on their respective campuses to raise awareness and celebrate the contributions of those who have selflessly donated.

• MidHudson Regional Hospital Flag Raising, Poughkeepsie, NY
April 5

Hospital staff and former patients gathered to raise a Donate Life flag in front of the hospital’s emergency department. Toni Ann Colon will led the ceremonial raising of the flag in honor of her son, Dillon, who died in an automobile accident in 2017 and donated tissue and organs.

• Westchester Medical Center Flag Raising, Valhalla, NY
April 6

Former patients and patient families impacted by organ donation will join hospital staff in raising a flag on the Westchester Medical Center campus to commemorate the beginning of Donate Life Month. Speakers will include Francesca Letizia, of Circleville, who donated a kidney to her husband, Thomas, just six weeks ago; Mary Murphy, of Yorktown, whose life was saved by a heart transplant in 2013; and Sue Oderifero, of Valhalla, whose son Frank donated tissue, bone and skin after his death in 2011.

• Westchester Medical Center Blue and Green Day, Valhalla, NY
April 13

Staff will dress in blue and green – the symbolic colors of organ donation – throughout the day to raise awareness.

• Westchester Medical Center Kidney Donor Reunion Celebration, Valhalla NY
April 20 | 11:30 a.m.

People who donated organs to a person they knew will gather along with their grateful organ recipients for a celebratory luncheon that will recognize the selfless contribution that they made. Kidney patients make up the largest percentage of people awaiting an organ transplant.

People must be at least 16 years old to register as an organ donor, with no maximum age. People 18 and older can register with the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Board of Elections or the Department of Health. New Yorkers who are 16 or 17 years old may also join the registry when they first apply for a driver’s license, permit, or non-driver ID, but parents have the option to amend the minor’s decision prior to age 18.

For more information about organ donation and to sign up to become a donor, visit donatelife.ny.gov. To learn more about the organ transplantation at Westchester Medical Center, visit westchestermedicalcenter.com/transplant.

 * Information provided by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).