At the transplant program in NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in Washington Heights, Manhattan, doctors admit they are desperate for more donors and that they country has an ongoing organ donor crisis. NY1’s Cheryl Wills filed the following report.
About one week ago, Stanley Kantor, 65, got a heart transplant at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Kantor, a grandfather, had congestive heart failure and was on the transplant waiting list for 14 months.
"It was a long wait. It has its bumps and disappointments and little setbacks, but in the end it was fabulous," says Kantor.
The transplant was not without risk, as the donor heart came from a fairly young IV-drug user in Minnesota. But after extensive testing, the NewYork-Presbyterian doctors determined the heart was fine.
NewYork-Presbyterian is home to the largest and most successful transplant program in the country, which is part of the reason why the medical center was ranked sixth on the U.S. News & World Report ranking of the country's best hospitals.
But for every success story like Kantor, there are many more sad endings.
"The number of people who need transplants way exceeds the number of available donors. So we're trying to do everything we can as a hospital, as a society, to improve the number of donors who are available," said Dr. Herbert Pardes, NewYork-Presbyterian's president and CEO.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, more than 111,000 Americans are currently waiting for organs and an overwhelming majority need kidneys.
In New York State, some 9,600 residents are waiting for transplants. One of them, Entoine Benn, has been waiting about one month for a heart.
"It's a little nerve-racking but I know it's for the better," says Benn.
Last year, 6,567 patients died while waiting for organ -- or an average of 18 people a day.
Doctors say just one organ donor can save up to eight lives.
Last year, doctors at NewYork-Presbyterian performed 718 transplants, and they are hoping to increase that number this year for patients like Benn.
To learn more about being an organ donor, visit organdonor.gov.