Observing National Donate Life Month at Richmond University Medical Center are Christopher Sorrentino, R.N., trauma coordinator at RUMC and a cornea transplant recipient; Ruth McAuley, R.N.; Kathleen Atkinson, Hospital and Family Services coordinator with the New York Organ Donor Network and Richard Salhany, senior vice president, medical affairs.STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- In observance of National Donate Life Month, Richmond University Medical Center threw a celebration yesterday in the West Brighton hospital that honored donor families, donors and staff for their collaborative efforts in working miracles.
“We want to thank the donor families for their generosity. Organ donation usually is the result of a tragic event or traumatic illness, and giving the gift of life in their time of despair is so selfless,” said Dr. Ruth McAuley, administrative director of Patient Rights and Advocacy. “We also thank our staff. This is truly a team effort.”
At the event, Kathleen Atkinson of the New York Organ Donor Network presented Congressional Gift of Life Medals to the hospital’s intensive care unit and emergency department for their work in referring potential organ donors and saving lives.
Christopher Sorrentino, a registered nurse and trauma coordinator at RUMC, shared his personal experience with organ donation. In 2005, he was the recipient of a cornea, which restored his sight.
“I can’t express the importance of vision in my field,” he said, adding that becoming a father 16 months ago made him even more grateful for his vision. “I was given the gift of sight. The donor afforded me the ability to watch my child grow.”
In addition to the ceremony, the hospital is supporting the Network’s initiative asking New Yorkers to add their names to the state’s donor registry. Despite a 14 percent increase in organ donation from deceased donors in 2009, the New York State Donate Life Registry has only 2 million names — 13 percent of the population older than 18.
There are also currently 7,700 people waiting for organ transplants in the region. Across the country, the waiting list has grown to more than 106,000 individuals, and each day around 18 people die because of a shortage of donated organs.