Patient Care

Syracuse Woman Gets the Ultimate Christmas Gift – A New Heart

Dec. 21, 2011
Transplant cardiologist Eugene Storozynsky, M.D., listens to Carol Kankoski's lungs after a heart transplant, as nurse practitioner Shari Litto discusses test results captured on a monitor. Kankoski received the new a heart Dec. 15.

A Syracuse woman is recovering this holiday season from a well-timed heart transplant at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

“It’s the most tremendous gift that I’ve received and I’ll always be grateful,” said Carol Kankoski of Salina.

Heart surgeon H. Todd Massey, M.D., performed the five-hour surgery Dec. 15. URMC’s Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation is the only comprehensive heart failure and transplant service in upstate New York.

“It’s wonderful to see a patient thrive after a transplant and we look forward to seeing Ms. Kankoski return to home to her family and normal routine,” said transplant cardiologist Eugene Storozynsky, M.D., Ph.D.  He will closely monitor her recovery and heart function for the rest of her life.

“My prayers have been answered,” she said, thanking her family and friends who joined in the effort.

Kankoski suffered from cardiomyopathy and her heart couldn’t pump enough blood through the circulatory system. Storozynsky said the

“insidious course” of her disease was impacting other organs and added her to the waiting list for the new organ.

Since then, Kankoski developed strong bonds with the doctors and nurses caring for her and others facing heart failure or waiting for new hearts.

“I’m going to miss these people a lot. They’re like family to me,” she said, adding that her experience strengthens her belief that more people should support organ donation. “I’m praying that every one of my friends here gets the heart they need but that can’t happen without the generosity of others.”

In this region, there are 848 people awaiting organ transplants, including 52 who need a new heart. In New York, there are 10,000 people waiting for organs, more than 112,000 in the country, according to the Finger Lakes Donor Recovery Network, the organ procurement organization affiliated with the University of Rochester Medical Center and SUNY Upstate Medical University.  

FLDRN coordinates organ donation in 20 counties with a population of 2.4 million, serving 38 hospitals in the Finger Lakes region, central and northern New York. To register as an organ donor, go to

URMC is a leader in cardiac care, providing comprehensive management of all cardiac problems. The Program in Heart Failure and Transplantation holds the advanced certification in heart failure from the Joint Commission, the nation’s leading body for setting health care standards and accreditation. Only 37 U.S. hospitals and medical centers hold this prestigious designation.