19-year-old works to raise awareness during American Heart Month

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A Co-op city teen is working to raise awareness during American Heart Month in February.

Angelica Sanchez is only 19 years old, but has already overcome more obstacles than most. She was diagnosed with cancer at just the age of four, and beat it that same year. Unfortunately, the chemo that helped kill her cancer was slowly killing her heart over a decade later.

"I had symptoms of coughing and nausea I just didn't know chemo had these side effects," said Sanchez. Sanchez had to have a ventricular assist device pump installed in her heart to keep it beating.

She is now one of an estimated 339 people in the state -- and over 3,700 in the country -- awaiting a heart transplant and has been on the list for almost a year.

She says she has been working with the organization LiveOn NY, the official organ procurement organization in the region, to raise awareness about organ donation.

"We encourage everyone to educate themselves on this topic.. to speak with their loved ones and to consider registering. It's a really incredible legacy to leave, and we find it brings a lot of comfort to families on their darkest day," said LiveOn NY spokesperson Ali McSherry.

LiveOn NY had a record year in 2019, with nearly 1,000 transplants. However, according to the nonprofit, only 39% of New Yorkers are registered organ donors, so they believe the job is not done yet.

Feb. 14 is not only Valentine's Day but National Donor Day. They say it is time to celebrate the gift of life and bring attention to the needs of patients like Sanchez.

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