Patient, experts call attention to need for organ donors

A Bronx woman whose first kidney transplant failed is among the thousands of New Yorkers who are waiting for organs that they may never receive.

Dana Massey was diagnosed with lupus 20 years ago. The disease causes the immune system to attack healthy cells. She received a kidney from her brother in 2001, but it failed. She likens the experience to going from a "a high" to an extreme low. She has been undergoing dialysis for the past five years in order to rid her body of toxins that her kidney would normally handle.

"Initially, it just affected my joints," Massey says, referring to lupus. 

Massey is waiting for a new kidney, but health professionals say the New York area has a dearth of organ donors. Massey is one of more than 10,000 people on a list. A New Yorker dies every 15 hours because an organ isn't available, according to statistics.

About 24 percent of New Yorkers are registered with the national Donate Life registry. That is compared with a 50 percent national average.

Health professionals attribute the low donations in New York to a lack of awareness and difficulty with signing up online.

For Massey and others, they hope that awareness spreads and that donations increase.

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