Jamestown sportswriter Cody Crandall hopes sharing a personal story can change a life, rather than one he writes.
“This isn’t anything that I would have ever imagined,” Crandall said. “Being here makes me realize how many people need life-saving transplant surgeries.”
He is raising awareness of the need to grow the state’s organ donor registry. New York has long had poor participation in organ donation, ranking last among the 50 states. However the state recently began offering online registration, which is expected to increase the number of people committed to donation.
As a new year begins, many people resolve to help others, and joining the organ donor registry is a great way to begin.
Crandall’s story began in August, when he’d been feeling run down and couldn’t shake a cough. When it progressed to breathlessness, he went to UPMC Chautauqua WCA hospital and imaging testing showed his heart was enlarged. Cardiologists at UPMC-Hamot Hospital in Erie, Pa., diagnosed viral heart failure and also detected a clot in his lung, which could have been deadly. Doctors implanted a high-tech pump to stabilize his heart function and then flew him to Strong Memorial Hospital.
“I met Cody and his family when he first came to our hospital on a temporary heart pump. We were eventually able to remove the pump and stabilize him with medications. However, his heart function did not recover and we needed to add him to the waiting list for a heart transplant,” said Himabindu Vidula, M.D., of the Advanced Heart Failure Program. “Cody has shown an incredible amount of strength as he deals with his heart failure and he is very motivated, which is important for a speedy recovery after transplant.”
“It’s really scary to hear that your heart is failing. But the thing that makes it easier is the support I’m getting from my parents and family and friends,” said the SUNY-Fredonia graduate. He is son of John and Lisa Crandall.
Spending the holidays in the hospital is unfortunate for him and his family. However Crandall is making the best of it by watching basketball games and binge-watching his favorite television programs. “It keeps my mind off having heart failure and lets me act like a normal 24 year old guy.”
The number of people who need organ transplants far exceeds the number of organs donated each year. There are nearly 10,000 people in New York who need an organ transplant, according to the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, the organ procurement organization affiliated with the University of Rochester Medical Center, in partnership with other Upstate New York hospitals.
About 450 people, like Crandall, are on Strong Memorial Hospital’s heart, liver, kidney or pancreas transplant program waiting lists. You can join the state’s organ donor registry online at passlifeon.org or donatelife.ny.gov.