'Let's keep our distance.' - Organ recipient stresses importance of safety during crisis
Some of the New Yorkers most vulnerable to the coronavirus include those currently on the waitlist for an organ transplant, and those who have already received one.
Bill O'Hagan says his life has changed drastically since he was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2015. The 59-year-old says he did not know that even after being lucky enough to receive a liver transplant, a new virus would create an obstacle for him to stay alive and healthy two years later.
O'Hagan tells News 12 that since he received his liver transplant, he immediately changed his ways since he's now more at risk for getting sick. He no longer hops onto crowded subways. Now, during the coronavirus pandemic, he stays home besides occasionally going out to get groceries.
O'Hagan says the idea of him getting the coronavirus is extremely scary for him. He says he is immunocompromised and that's why he's grateful to see so many people outside and in stores wearing masks to hopefully slow the spread of the virus.
He's hoping that even after the shutdown is over, people continue to keep him and others most at-risk in mind when leaving their homes.
"Until we come up with a vaccine or until we get medicine where people who get this can go in and get a shot or an IV or something so it doesn't make it a death sentence, let's just be conscious, let's keep our distance,” said O'Hagan.
There are hundreds of people like O'Hagan who have received transplants and nearly 3,000 are currently on the waitlist. He says that in addition to staying home and wearing a mask when you have to go outside, he encourages anyone who can to become an organ donor to save a life, just like someone saved his.