George Washington Bridge a lifeline for organ transplants at hospitals

New York Daily News | BY LARRY MCSHANE AND HEIDI EVANS
Photo: 'The George Washington Bridge is a symbol of hope and life for me,' says Jasmine Figueroa, a heart transplant recipient who remembers staring at the bridge from her New York-Presbyterian Hospital room, praying for a new heart to cross the Hudson River.

Traffic on the busy span -- which was jammed for days after N.J. Gov. Chris Christie’s staff ordered lanes closed as part of a political vendetta – could mean the difference between life and death in operations such as heart transplants.The George Washington Bridge is more than a steel artery between two states, a crowded lifeline for harried commuters.

Just ask transplant recipient Jasmine Figueroa.

The ambulance transporting her donor heart raced across the span to reach the Washington Heights mom in a nick of time at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Because a human heart must be transplanted within four hours of removal from the donor — the organs can come from as far away as 500 miles — every minute of travel counts.

“The George Washington Bridge is a symbol of hope and life for me,” said Figueroa, 36, outraged at the news that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s staff deliberately shut down lanes of the bridge as political punishment against the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J.

Watching the scandal unfold reminded her of the three months she spent staring at the bridge from her hospital room 10 years ago, praying for a new heart to cross the Hudson River.
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