Thousands In Pa. In Need Of Organ Transplant
April Marks Donate Life Month
POSTED: 5:36 pm EDT April 28, 2010
As April marks Donate Life Month, WTAE Channel 4 Action News anchor Michelle Wright examined how western Pennsylvania compares to other regions when registering organ donors.
Wright reported that 107,000 Americans are currently on the organ transplant list, with 3,000 in western Pennsylvania.
Wright spoke with local resident Sandy Rusnak, who is awaiting a kidney transplant.
"I want to see my daughter get married and I want to see my granddaughter grow up," said Rusnak.
Her husband, George, remains hopeful he and his wife will get to grow old together.
"You kind of figure your life is geared toward when you retire. You'll grow old together and you'll be able to walk on the beach whenever you're like 60, 70 and 80 years old, if you're able and enjoy life together. You certainly don't want to lose someone like that," said George Rusnak.
Wright went to UPMC Montefiore to observe a kidney transplant between a father and his 19-year-old daughter.
Wright reported that 40 percent of all kidney transplants are performed with living donors, but in Rusnak's case, her family members who were tested are unable to donate, leaving her with the options of receiving a kidney from a stranger willing to donate or from a cadaver.
Dr. Ron Shapiro said there is a great need for organs, especially kidneys.
"More people die waiting on a kidney than waiting for hearts and lungs and livers combined," said Shapiro, of UPMC.
Until a donor comes through, Rusnak will be forced to go on dialysis.
"If you can help somebody else, they call it giving the gift of life, and it is," said Rusnak.