How organ donation can change and save lives

Joe Borker was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, twelve years ago, eventually led to kidney failure.

When the Brooklyn native became eligible for a transplant at Mount Sinai Hospital, he was shocked to learn that his own wife of forty-three years was a match.

"For someone like Carol who donates a kidney, it's very emotional that you're giving someone another shot at life," he says.

"In terms of giving up a piece of yourself, there is a moment in time. for me, it was about at six weeks. We no longer talked about Joe’s kidney as my kidney," Borker’s wife, Carol Cohen adds.

Marsha-Ann Hay lost sight in her left eye at the young age of sixteen due to a condition called acute keratoconus.

In her twenties. vision in the right eye began to deteriorate.

Today, Hat is a proud double corneal transplant recipient, receiving the gift of sight from two complete strangers.

"I’ve been making them so proud because I've been able to achieve all my dreams. I've been living all my dreams because of not one, but two, donor families," she explains.

A surge of organ donations has paved the way for a record-setting year.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the non-profit that manages the U.S. transplant system, 41,354 organ transplants were performed in 2021, alone.

That’s an increase of 5.9 percent compared to 2020 and the first time organ donations have ever exceeded 40,000 in a single year.

"We see more conversations happening, more advocacy, more normalization of those conversations about end-of-life issues that lead to discussions about organ and tissue donation," Leonard Achan, President and CEO of LiveOnNY tells FOX 5 NY.

Achan says most patients typically wait one or two years for an organ transplant.

In New York, the wait may range from 3 to 5 years.

"A single organ donor can save as many as eight lives but change the lives of as many as fifty to seventy-five people," Achan mentions.

33-year-old FDNY firefighter Jesse Gerhard, who died after suffering a medical episode in the line of duty, was a registered organ and tissue donor.

27-year-old NYPD officer Wilbert Mora, who was ambushed and killed while responding to a domestic violence call with his partner, Jason Rivera, donated his pancreas, liver, and heart to three people in New York and two other recipients out of state.

Any New Yorker aged sixteen or older can sign up to become an organ, eye and tissue donor.

One can register with the New York Organ Donor Network by filling out a form online or by printing it out and mailing it in.