Organ-transplant recipients, donors and donors' families shared stories Tuesday in the hope of promoting organ donation on Long Island.
Margaret Valsechi, of Lindenhurst, was among them. She spoke at the organ-donation awareness event at North Shore-LIJ. She explained how difficult it was when her son Steven was severely injured in an accident in 2010.
"I knew in my heart he wasn't going to make it," she said. After many agonizing hours, Valsechi said she knew it was time to take her brain dead son off life support. "And when I held his hand, I just kept picturing in my mind another mother holding her son's hand and hoping for a heart."
Steven's heart, liver and kidneys were donated, saving four lives in the process. Valsechi later met the man who received her son's heart. "He took my hand and put it on his chest so that I could feel my son's heart beat again," she says.
She now has an entire extended family that consists of the recipients of her son's organs.
Organ-donation advocates believe that Valsechi's story and events aimed at raising awareness are critical. "I think this is an incredible event because it allows us to see the results of transplantation," said Dr. Ernesto Molmenti.
About 10,000 people in New York state are waiting for organs. Each day, about 79 people nationwide receive a transplant, but 21 people die waiting, according to LIJ.