The Heart of a Hero Lives On

Most college graduates spend their days celebrating and kicking off their career. But for Karen, her days were spent in the hospital, awaiting a new heart. Thanks to the courageous act of Thomas, an organ donor hero, Karen was able to live on—and eventually give life of her own. Hear more from this first time mom about her transplant journey and gift of life.

Karen's Story

Karen was a runner and an active kid, but that all changed when she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Her health continued to worsen throughout her teen years. She was just two days away from graduating from Fordham University when doctors told her she would need a heart transplant to survive.

“Hearing I needed a transplant – and that my life might be over before it had really begun – left me feeling like a shell of myself,” she remembers.

Soon after hearing the news, Karen was checked into the hospital where she would remain until her doctors found a heart for her. She was weak and unable to keep food down.

“I felt horrible,” she says. “I knew I didn’t have much time left.”

After several excruciating months of living in the hospital, Karen got a call that a match had been found when Thomas, a 16-year-old Long Island resident and organ donor hero, donated his heart.

“Thomas saved my life,” Karen says. “Because of him and his family, I am here today. Because of them I was able to get married and have a baby. There are not words to express how thankful I am to Thomas for giving me the gift of life.”

Commonly Asked Questions

The decision to register as an organ donor is personal and can require additional thought and reflection. Here you will find answers to some of your questions.

What is the organ donation process?

Non-living donation only happens once someone has died and can only be done with consent by you prior to your passing or by your family after your passing. LiveOnNY works with hospitals to carry out a person’s wishes to be an organ donor after their death. We also work with families who choose to give the gift of life on behalf of a deceased love one if that loved one was not a registered organ donor. Once someone consents to being an organ donor, a surgery is performed to recover organs from the donor. They are then transplanted to someone in need in order to help save their life.

Can I trust that the process is fair?

Organ, eye and tissue donation are highly regulated processes that ensure fairness and equity. The hospital where a person receives care and the organizations that maintain the organ donation registry, facilitate organ and tissue donation, and maintain the transplant waiting list are all separate entities. This is to ensure that there is no conflict of interest and that no part of the process can be influenced. Matching organ donors to transplant recipients is solely based on health factors and cannot be altered by factors such as race, economic status, or celebrity status.

Will doctors work as hard to save my life?

Doctors, nurses, paramedics and other hospital personnel are legally obligated to do everything in their power to save a patient’s life. LiveOnNY is a separate organization that works with families to facilitate organ donation only after a patient is deemed terminal. At no point will your care be compromised if you are a registered organ donor, or if your family has decided to donate your organs after your death.

Does my religion support organ donation?

Major religions celebrate organ donation as an opportunity to save lives and view it as a final act of kindness. The blessings associated with saving a life are also held in higher esteem than the religious laws surrounding burial. We encourage you to speak with your faith leader if you have additional questions. Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Catholicism have all stated approval for organ donation when done with the intention of saving lives.