Jamestown sportswriter Cody Crandall felt like he hit a grand slam when UR Medicine transplant cardiologists shared news that a matching heart was available for him. The 24-year-old former baseball standout at Jamestown High School waited more than six months for a new heart at UR Medicine’s Strong Memorial Hospital, and just hearing the words felt like a victory.
“They told me they had a really good heart for me and that they’d do the transplant the next day,” Crandall said. “It was the best feeling.”
As he waited for the life-saving surgery, it seemed like time slowed down. “It was the longest day of my life. I couldn’t sleep because my mind was racing. I was thinking about my family, how my life had changed in an instant back in August when I learned about my heart problems, and what my life would be like with a new heart.”
Surrounded by his parents, John and Lisa Crandall, relatives and friends, Crandall has a long road ahead to regain strength and endurance.
“Cody’s positive attitude and inner strength have helped him to achieve a speedy recovery,” transplant cardiologist Himabindu Vidula, M.D., said. She is part of the Advanced Heart Failure program, which provides patients with medical, mechanical and transplantation care.
Crandall’s health crisis began last August. He was exhausted and plagued by a persistent cough that progressed to breathing difficulty. Testing showed an enlarged heart and cardiologists in Pennsylvania diagnosed viral heart failure. He was flown to Strong Memorial Hospital, upstate New York’s only site for comprehensive care for heart failure and heart transplantation.
The SUNY-Fredonia graduate is excited to be home and begin his second chance at life, thanks to the generosity of an organ donor. He is interested in raising awareness of the importance of being a part of the state’s organ donor registry.
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. More than 400 people are waiting for heart, liver, kidney or pancreas transplants at Strong Memorial Hospital.
Recently, New Yorkers were given the opportunity to register online, which has resulted in an increase the number of people committed to donation. Go to passlifeon.org or donatelife.ny.gov to register.